Marlous Mutsaers: “Tilburg now truly belongs to the big cities"

| Sanne Leenders

Say books, then you say Gianotten Mutsaers. And when you say active city resident, you say Marlous Mutsaers. Together with her son Ruud she has run the bookstore in the heart of the city center for 7 years now. Reading has always been Marlous' passion: "It broadens your view and has a relaxing effect. Not a day goes by where I don't read. Marlous is proud of Tilburg and the steps that have been made, but according to her it could still be a bit grander. "Tilburg should develop more of the allure of a big city." Curious about her Unfiltered opinion? You can read it here!
Photo's: RAWCAT media

Marlous Mutsaers replaced her studies in dietetics with a job that she has not regretted for one minute. "When I was looking for a suitable job years ago, Gianotten's advertisement instantly caught my eye. Once I applied, I was immediately hired and I never left after that." After years of working as a store manager, Marlous has been the proud owner of Gianotten Mutsaers for 7 years, together with her son Ruud. "We bought the company when it went bankrupt for the second time in 2 years, because we knew it would work well here in Tilburg. We thought we knew exactly what to do and what not to do, and that turned out to be true. We do what the client wants, because every city has its own profile. They are all small touches, but it is those touches that are important."

Together we make the city even more beautiful

In addition to being the owner of Gianotten Mutsaers, Marlous is also the chairman of the Retailers Association Emmapassage, chairman of the Retailers Association Tilburg City Centre, board member of City Centre Management Tilburg, board member of the Entrepreneurs Fund, member of the Supervisory Board of De Nieuwe Vorst and member of the Women's Network Hera. "Why am I so involved in the city? I really like Tilburg. It appeals to me how we work together here and I like to contribute to that. I believe in the collective, so the better the city is doing, the better our store is doing."

Downtown transformation

We cannot ignore it: the center of Tilburg is, as Marcel Kattenstaart said, one big construction site. Gianotten Mutsaers, as a bookstore, is right in the middle of it. "A few years ago they started the transformation of the city center. Think of the renovation of the Emmapassage, Frederikstraat, City Hall and the greening of the city center. The Emmapassage will be completed in two parts, the last part will be finished early 2022. Because we were the first store to open in the renewed Emmapassage, we hoped to get new neighbors, but the Emmapassage is quite empty. You can't blame anyone for that, but it is a pity! Good news is that we will expand a part of the store! Or rather, the restaurant area will be expanded to include a space where you can have lunch. Of course you can already join us for a good cup of coffee or tea with pastry, but soon it will be even more attractive and especially larger. The new section will be built on the spot where the word 'hallo' is now on the wall (see cover photo) and will open onto the yet-to-be-developed square between Frederikstraat and Emmapassage."

Tilburg now belongs to the big cities

"I think Tilburg has made great progress and has become really nice for both the residents, and beyond. Developments like the Spoorpark, the Spoorzone and the Piushaven make the city dynamic and accessible to many target groups." One plan that is still in the development phase is the Stadsforum. According to Marlous, this is a huge opportunity for the inner city, but not without consequences. 

"For the Stadsforum to become as attractive as you hope, there must be far fewer cars. There is an area of tension between accessibility for the retailer and the experience of the visitor. After all, we don't want people to say: The city center of Tilburg? You really can't get there!"

According to Marlous, Tilburg has gained momentum in the last 10 years due to three developments: the Piushaven, Spoorzone and with the highlight of library the Lochal. "The moment the Lochal opened, all of the Netherlands and Belgium knew that you had to go to Tilburg to see something special. The opening of the Lochal was a pivotal moment in which Tilburg suddenly really started to belong to the big cities."

The city center as your backyard

A change that did not go unnoticed is the Spoorpark. According to Marlous a hip and appropriate park in a big city like Tilburg. "I think it's great to see that city residents consider this their backyard and sit there with a blanket." Whether Marlous hopes this will soon happen in front of her door? "Yes definitely! Because large residential towers are being built above the Emmapassage and the Pieter Vreedeplein, the number of inhabitants of the inner city will increase substantially. I expect and hope that they will consider the streets and parks of our city as their backyard. At the moment Heuvelstraat and Emmapassage are deserted after closing time. When the cafes open in the evening it is busy there, but during the day it is different. Let's hope that soon there will be more life in the city center. I think that will create a whole different energy."

Pride grows slowly

What Tilburg really lacks, according to Marlous, is a sense of pride in the city. "I've said for a long time that that's the only thing we're still missing. The Tilburger always thought that it was more fun somewhere else. That's not true, of course, but that was something that was almost in our DNA. Now I see the pride slowly coming back and growing." OK, so the pride is there again, but how are you going to show that to outsiders? According to Marlous, the challenge lies in tying together the separate areas of Tilburg. Think of the Piushaven, Spoorzone, the Spoorpark and all our wonderful museums. How exactly to do this, Marlous does not know, but ideas are always welcome! And oh yes, if Marlous ever gets the chance to rename the Emmapassage to Emmastraat, she will be the first in line.

What do you think? Should it stay Emmapassage or become Emmastraat?


Within this section, we give creative people from Tilburg a stage. A ticket to... the expression of their unfiltered opinion about the city. Are you curious who else has something to say about Tilburg besides Marlous Mutsaers? Then take a look at these interviews:

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