The company of the ‘Onnoozele schapen’ (foolish sheep)

Around 1830, the Jodenbreestraat (street) was a lively shopping street in the heart of the Jewish neighbourhood. The company De Vries van Buuren continued to grow steadily, resulting in the phase-by-phase purchase and renovation of adjacent buildings from the year 1881 onward. A facing brick with two sheep and the text ‘De twee onnoozele schapen’ (The two foolish sheep) adorned the main entrance to the shop. This became the company’s trademark.

 

Engraving featuring De Vries van Buuren & Co. by Johann Hechler, 1883

Textiles for street-traders and market vendors

In 1927, the company was established in a continuous complex consisting of the premises Jodenbreestraat 8-12 (currently corresponding to the new development extension of the Rembrandthuis and a part of numbers 6-14), Zwanenburgwal (quay) 11-17 (now Waterlooplein 1) and the Waterlooplein (square) 1-13 (now 1-29). The company profited from the growing market for ready-to-wear clothes. It supplied textiles and ran its own ready-made clothing workshop. The clients were mainly shopkeepers, street-traders and market vendors from the Jewish neighbourhood.

 

Jodebreestraat 2-24. Third building from left is texile wholeseller De Vries van Buuren & Co

Closed on Saturday

De Vries van Buuren & Co. had the reputation of being a good employer. The company had its own pension fund in a time that this was not yet general practice. The company employed over 300 people, the majority of whom were Jewish. This was taken into account: the company was closed on Saturdays and on Jewish holidays.

 

Memo from 1888 with the "Two Silly Sheep" letterhead from De Vries van Buuren & Co

Leaving the Waterlooplein

A large number of the employees was deported and killed during the war. The company made a new start after the war, but it moved to the West Indisch Huis on Haarlemmerstraat in 1954. The textiles wholesaler De Vries van Buuren ceased its activities for good in 1983. The former company complex, known as the Saskiahuis (house), was drastically renovated in the period 1996-1998 into an apartment complex with a number of business accommodations.