Serving authentic Dutch baked goods since 1954...
In 1952, Walter and Hilda Valkema had a family business in Audega, the Friesland section of the Netherlands. Like any loving father and mother, they wished for a better life for their kids and decided to try a life in the “land of the free.” So, with their four children (and very little money) came to the USA with the help of a gentleman named Owen Aukema. Owen sponsored the family, securing a job for Walter and a home for his family in Sussex, NJ. Walter’s new job was to milk cows - he thought “anyone can milk a cow”, so he tried. He soon realized that was not the case, as he, himself was not good at it, at all. Each day after Walter finished milking ,he would tinker around the kitchen at home making a few of the dutch treats, a constant reminder of what he made daily back in the Netherlands. Eventually it came to the point where he bought another oven and had it installed in the garage behind the house so he could make even more and more dutch baked goods for his fellow immigrant friends.
As time went on, Walter made a name for himself in rural northern New Jersey. With his success in the kitchen (and lack there of in the barn), Owen and Walter agreed that he should bake full time instead of milking cows. Soon enough, Walter bought the home and property from his neighbor Owen. Walter and his family converted the garage into a small store front, and the weekend of July 4th in 1954, the Holland American Bakery was officially open for business. They sold a variety of baked goods—mostly Dutch, but also some American treats too. Not long after, Walter and his wife purchased a few trucks and filled them with treats to deliver their baked goods. They offered their treats around local lake communities and other areas where they knew Dutch immigrants lived. As time went on, Walter and Hilda, with the help of their children, built a strong faith-based family business.
After about twelve years of their success, their only son Sam, who was already very much a part of the business , took it over when he married. The funny part of this is that Sam married Owen Aukema’s daughter Dotty; the girl next door. Remember?--They were neighbors! Sam and Dotty married in September of 1966 and bought the business and home that Walter and Hilda built. Soon, Sam and Dotty saved enough to transform the home and adjoining business into an authentic looking building straight out of Freisland. The buildings were completely renovated inside and out to give it not only the "Old World" look, but also feel. Soon after, decided to stop the delivery business because they noticed that more and more women (those who went for groceries) were driving, so the delivery trucks were no longer needed. Over the years, Sam Sam The Baker Man and Dotty had 6 children who all did their part working for the family business. As time went by, each of their children made decisions regarding their own future as to wether or not the bakery would be a part of it.
In 1999, Owen, Sam and Dotty’s 4th child made the decision to take on the family business. Owen had married Stephanie and they decided with Sam and Dotty that on January 1, of 2000 they would take over the business and all that it entailed. They moved into the house that Sam and Dotty had renovated which was adjoined to the bakery. Slowly but surely they got the hang of running the business, in addition to raising a family of their own. Owen was sure to get things done the way he wanted to but also strived to make his family proud of what he would bring to the business. Later he and Stephanie would do some more renovations to the building. They also added their first website and started selling one type of cookie online, the famous Speculaas. Once people knew these were available, they started asking for more and more goods; most of which came from fond memories of their childhood .They began to ask for items they remembered being delivered off of the early trucks.
Today, Owen and Stephanie have 5 children. Not only has their family grown, but so has the business. Thanksgiving through New Years Day is extremely busy. We cater to people who want to remember their family holidays with all of the goodies their Beppes, and Omas had made. We are proud of the quality of goods we bake and send out of our building; whether it be over the counter or packed up in a box to be shipped. Following the lead of Walter and Hilda and of Sam & Dotty, we continue to run a strong, faith-based family business, and plan to do so for as long as possible.
This is our life – We, Owen & Stephanie Valkema, own and operate this bakery that’s been in the family since 1954. This is our story.
Thank you for your interest.
–Owen and Stephanie