In 1908 a certain Theofiel Adriaenssens opens a small sweetsshop at Paardenmarkt no. 108 in Antwerp. In 1918 Theo decides he's had enough of sweets. His sister Leonie, who owns a hat shop right next door, takes over the sweetshop. Leonie then marries Raymond Bastin, an upholsterer-cum-paperer, who helps out in the shop when he can spare the time. From their marriage a son is born in 1935: Gilbert, who will never get to know his father, who dies when Gilbert is 18 months old. Mother Leonie has to fend for herself. But a hard way is also a way, as they say in Antwerp, and Gilbert grows up to be a strapping lad. They even make it through the Second World War fairly unscathed, even though they get shot at by routing German soldiers, who manage to hit them both with a single bullet. They sustain minor injuries and like all other Belgians, Leonie tries to pick up her pre-war life. As the years go by, Gilbert's interest in the coloured sweets, biscuits and chocolate his mother sells, continues to grow and he decides to study to be a chocolate confectioner at the newly opened INCOPA at Charlotta Avenue.where he's one of the youngest students. Everything he learns in school he tries out after school in the attic. The next day his proud mother offers his tryouts FOR FREE to her customers. One chocolate mould soon becomes two, then three, and so on. He gradually builds a nice assortment and upon graduating, his pralines are already widely appreciated.
His pralines sell well (at a small fee, of course) and more and more purchased products make way for his own creations. In 1959 Julia De Bie is hired as shop assistant. The death of "Mum Nie", as she was called by many of her customers, in 1960 came as a surprise. In 1963 construction of a large apartment building is begun at numbers 108 to 116, housing a new shop. In the meantime a wooden shed on the pavement serves as point of sale. In case you're interested in weather statistics, 1963 was the coldest winter in years; the river Scheldt was even frozen over. As if the devil had a hand in it, a young driver drove straight through the "wooden shop" on a rainy day, barely missing Julia and her sister Maria. (The latter had also been hired in the meantime.) In spite of all the problems, the building is finished on time and the shop opens in February 1964. Now that we're having a party, we might as well keep it up for a while, Gilbert must have thought. On May 2 he asks for Julia's hand in the St-Anthony church. Their marriage is blessed with three children: Raymond, Ronny and Linda. In 1971 the adjacent premises at no. 106 are bought and on October 1, 1973 the current shop opens its doors. Breeding will out and the two sons, infected by the chocolate virus, go into business with their parents. This eventually results in the BVBA G. BASTIN in 1989. But the workshop soon becomes too small, due to the ever-increasing sales and the development of new products. On May 1, 1992 construction is begun on new workshops with housing above. As if time had been turned back, once again production takes place in a street-side container for a couple of months. What was the saying? The hard way is also a way! The workshops are ready in September and early 1993 the apartments too are ready for occupation. All goes well until February 28, 1995 when father Gilbert, without any warning, suffers a heart attack while at work. Gilbert's death is the worst that can happen to the family business. But, then again, breeding will out and Raymond and Ronny become co-managers and continue the tradition.
On January 25, 1999 they open a second shop in the heart of Antwerp, next to the Cathedral in Blauwmoezelstraat 3. What drives them is a constant search for new products and an even more personal attention to customers. The latest stage of their search has led BASTIN to the Internet, enabling people in Belgium, or anywhere else in the world, to order our very own pralines on line and have them delivered @ home.