Between the cafes, coffee shops and lunchrooms on Radioplein you'll find a special store: Cool Bananas. Store with fun stuff' is how owner Frank likes to describe his business. It's striking, because every time you step into Cool Bananas you're looking forward to all the stylish and often comical products on display in the cozy store.
The surprising offer is carefully put together by Frank himself. I only sell things that I'm super excited about myself!
What is Cool Bananas?
I always say; Cool Bananas is a store with fun stuff. From search books to soccer prints, from cuddly toys to design alarms. We really have something for everyone. Man or woman, young or old, anyone can succeed here. And that's pretty special because there are very few stores where you can get a gift for ten different people at once. You'll find popular items here, but also things you can't buy anywhere else. It's that combination of products that makes Cool Bananas unique and surprising.
And how do you put this combination together?
I'm constantly looking for new things. If I see something beautiful on the internet or social media, I'll see if I can get it. So I just got some supergave comic books inside, made by a man from Colombia. I saw them on Instagram and just sent him a message if I could sell his books in our store. That was allowed!
So sometimes I have to make a lot of effort, but then I have a product that I am very happy with. That's an important condition for me, I only sell things that I really support. If I tell customers enthusiastically about a product, that's very sincere and I notice that that is appreciated. There are sometimes customers who come back especially for a product that I've told them about enthusiastically before.
In the past year the assortment has grown considerably. We now sell products from at least fifty different suppliers from all over the world.
How did you ever get started with this?
My wife Malou, a cousin of mine and I started the Cool Bananas webshop a few years ago. We didn't have the ambition to make a lot of money with it. This was purely for fun, in addition to our jobs. Last year I noticed that I was no longer in my place with my employer at that time. My cousin had left the Cool Bananas ship. And coincidentally Malou saw a call coming in at the time looking for a new tenant for this property. We became that new tenant from several interested parties. So we just had a physical store! There was no well thought out business plan. Malou and I just plunged in and in a month and a half we put together a store with a remarkable assortment. In the year that we are now open, we have slowly transformed the store into a store that we are really proud of. I'm in the store every day and Malou is the strong link in the background that ensures solid finances through her work as a teacher. Cool Bananas is definitely a result of teamwork. Even though you might not see that so much in the store.
How do you like it here?
First of all, I am very happy with the building itself. The old facade and the classic shop window are a perfect match for Cool Bananas. But I also like the location very much! In recent years the Radioplein has developed from a boring square to a place where there is always something to do. It is now known to many people in Tilburg. The familiarity is for a large part in the existing hospitality industry. Now it's up to us to make sure we are mentioned in the same breath with things like Locals, Lunchcafé Nieuwland and Bargús. Fortunately, there is a lot of traffic here every day and we notice that more and more people are entering the store after having cycled by regularly.
Do you also notice that there is more local shopping these days?
Because we've only been open for a year, I find that hard to say, because I can't compare with previous years. However, I do see a broad social development in which people seem increasingly aware of how much fun it is to walk into the city and buy from the small entrepreneurs. I have that too; where a few years ago I preferred to go to large stores with huge offers, now I prefer to go to smaller stores with personal service.
It's also special to see how many more things have been added in the last few months in the city centre. As a result, I believe that after the corona era, the city will be a lot more fun than it used to be.