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Small general stores making comeback in rural Germany

The Local · 3 Nov 2009, 12:29

Published: 03 Nov 2009 12:29 GMT+01:00

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The Tante Emma Laden, or “Auntie Emma store,” as small corner shops are commonly called in Germany, is experiencing a renaissance thanks to state funding, the magazine's website said.

For many years the stores were thought to be dying out. But in the last decade, some 20,000 big supermarkets have pulled out of communities with fewer than 5,000 residents and aren’t opening new locations in places with populations smaller than 8,000, Der Spiegel reported.

But some 15 percent of Germany’s population lives in such small towns – where new mini markets often also serving as community centres – are cropping up across the country.

“A village store only works in economically unsure times when it identifies with the residents,” project coordinator at the Schleswig-Holstein agricultural ministry Christina Pfeiffer told Der Spiegel.

The town of Gülzow with 1,300 residents, for example, received some €800,000 in state funding towards a new building for a store on the main street. It’s one of some 25 village stores in the state that have been built to suit individual community needs in addition to selling groceries. Other services postal service, lotto, snack bars, and venues for local student and senior gatherings.

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“Above all, one hears here first what’s going on in town,” customer Vera Poggenhorn told the magazine.

Similar projects are also underway in the southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, where more than 200 such Tante Emma Laden have opened their doors – mainly through local initiative.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:35 November 3, 2009 by Chanaka Lloyd
I wish they'd spread in to the urban areas too. Not just in Germany, but we lack specialized, localized shops in most of the countries. The most evident reason for this are the chain supermarkets and the chain food companies!

Such chain food/supermarkets incurs long lasting environmental and cultural (food is so closely related to culture) impacts.

I hope a government appreciation and citizen awareness (eg. Bio/Organic products) in the issue would be a stepping stone for a good cause.
22:01 November 3, 2009 by piper1
Quite common in Australia.. Every town has one and it is expected.. we call them "Milk Bars" ..
02:10 November 4, 2009 by Stephen Brown
Can these people do anything without a subsidy?
04:24 November 4, 2009 by slobo
Hopefully Auntie Emma will still be selling switch blade knives, as she did thirty years ago!
08:32 November 11, 2009 by kiwikraut
And very common everywhere in New Zealand, going strong ! They are called "Dairies" here and the name originates from the good old days when the milk (Dairy) was collected in these little shops and sometimes straight away traded for other goods and groceries. These Corner-Shops here have almost anything on offer, from bread and milk to fresh and frozen food, sweets, icecream, Lotto and for a couple of years now also alcoholic beverages.

Reminded me of my young days in smalltown Germany where this kind of shopping expierience is now a thing of the past ! Great to see a comeback and I hope the enterprising spirit will return als to my hometown!
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