Erika Schramme - Frederica
Erika Schramme and her husband Freddy Langhaskens, squeezed their first names together and christened their go-cart hire business Frederika. ‘I don’t get to the sea all that often any more but I do make it my business to go for a go-cart ride now and again.’
When my sister and I made our First Holy Communion, we secretly sneaked out and went to Ostend to hire a go-cart behind our parents’ back. A great secret they, thankfully, never found out about! During the summer, my mother would send me to summer school. We’d make our way to the Belgian Coast by bus to sunbathe on the beach and swim in the sea.
Other days, we killed the time riding co-carts because one of my friends happened to be the daughter of go-cart hirers. That’s how I spent my childhood years.
My husband was born in Ghent but moved to the Belgian Coast when his parents decided to start a hotel there. As a fifteen-year-old I got a job washing dishes at the hotel and that’s where the spark ignited. Meanwhile we’ve been married 38 years. I enjoyed and was good at my job. But when my parents-in-law suggested that we’d take over the hotel we didn’t feel quite ready. ‘Oui’ and ‘non’ was as much French as I knew and we were still terribly young. Serving guests and cooking was no problem, but actually running a hotel was a different kettle of fish altogether. That’s why, in 1979, my parents-in-law closed the hotel chapter.
They took over a property and started hiring out go-carts. We worked for them for a while and, in 1985, my husband and I became the owners. These days, I don’t get to the sea half as often as I’d like. Our go-cart hire business is only five minutes away from the beach but I rarely get there. When the shop is closed, I have the accounts to do, so time tends to be at a premium. Mind you, I do try to get out by go-cart now and again. And of course I drive them out of the garage every day. When my sister’s children call in when things are quiet, I put them in the front seat of a go-cart and we go for a spin to the tennis court of the park. I really enjoy that.
My husband and I are 60 and 58 now. My husband is beginning to look forward to retirement but I wouldn’t mind keeping going for another while. I love all those happy little faces and enjoy meeting people.
We even have a number of well-known personalities who have been hiring their go-carts from us for years like Els Tibau, Ingeborg and Veerle Baetens. All out-and-out charming!
I would like to keep going for as long as I can. We don’t have any family to take over the business. My daughter and her husband are remedial educationalists; my son took his own life. So the business will not stay in the family. Perhaps someone in the area might take it over but the arrangements are still up in the air. Before that day arrives, I want to make many more children happy first.
Frederica - Markt 33, 8420 Wenduine, +32 (0)50/ 41 67 13
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