New kind of department store has hit German towns

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In recent months and the last year or so so-called Social Department Stores (Sozialkaufhäuser) have opened in many German towns and cities; some run by charities like the German red Cross other not.

These are basically large Goodwill Stores or Thrift Stores or what are called Charity Shops in Britain. With the difference, however, to those Charity Shops in the UK, that the German “Social Department Stores” may only sell donated goods.

In late November 2009 the latest one of these social department stores opened in Lower Saxon town of Braunschweig and people had been queuing from the early hours, with the queue reaching for several blocks, waiting for the store to open its doors.

Those stores and the reaction to them and uptake of them by the people are a rather new phenomenon, at least in Germany.

While there have been warehouses from the municipalities with secondhand furniture and white goods for poorer folks to furnish a (new) home with and also secondhand clothing outlets by charities such as the German Red Cross, Caritas, and other for homeless and poor people, those social department stores are something rather new and the take up of them even more so.

It would appear that the spirit of thrift has – once again – returned to Germany and that not before time.

The economic miracle of the last half of the twentieth century, which Germany was termed, seems to be a thing of the past now and gone with it is its affluence.

The way that the people eagerly awaited the opening of the latest of those stores in Braunschweig also shows that people seem to have gone into recession mode and do not appear to believe the talk of Germany having come out of the recession already.

Methinks there are more realists among the ordinary people than among the politicians, in Germany and also here in the UK. Maybe good so as well.

Those stores may also be something that could be bought too other countries? I sure would hope so and I think that it could be good, from what I have seem of the way they seem to work in Germany.

I must say that Germany and its people often amaze me as to how far ahead they are when it comes to green living, renewable energy, etc. What I was unaware of, however, is that they also appear to be becoming leaders in matters of thrist and thrift stores.

© 2009