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German Bookstore Thrives Selling Bread and Sausage



(p. A7) BAD SOODEN-ALLENDORF, Germany -- At five minutes after seven on a Saturday morning, the bookstore in this idyllic town was not yet officially open -- that happens at 7:30 a.m. -- but Susanne Frühauf had already rung up the first three customers of the day. At a shelf in the corner, behind a rack of discount paperbacks, her husband Wolfgang was working as quickly as he could.

"They're like moths," said Mr. Frühauf, genially, of his customers. "As soon as the lights go on, they come."

With that, he got back to work, stacking not books, but rows of freshly baked bread rolls sprinkled with poppy, pumpkin, flax, sesame or sunflower seeds that have brought townspeople flocking. Next to him stood a small refrigerator hung with "ahle wurst" -- a delicious air-dried, salami-like pork sausage that is one of the region's culinary specialties -- while in the center aisle, organic tomatoes and cucumbers vied with crime novels for table space.


. . .


Mr. Frühauf's grandfather founded a bookbindery nearly a century ago, right here on the ground floor of the family house on the market square; Mr. Frühauf grew up above the bookstore, which his parents and uncle ran together. Five years ago, when he saw the numbers, Mr. Frühauf -- who still lives upstairs, with his mother and his wife -- said the situation was clear: "We had to do something."

At the same time, news came that the town's last two bakeries were closing. For residents like Mr. Frühauf, who remember when half a dozen local bakers strove to make the town's best cream-covered plum cake, cumin roll or pumpernickel loaf, this blow was followed by hopeful news: Norbert Schill, who had lost his storefront lease, wanted to keep baking.

"I said, 'before there's no fresh bakery, I'll clear a shelf, and we can sell the bread here,'" Mr. Frühauf said. Mr. Schill agreed to give it a try.

The experiment was a success. Mr. Frühauf began keeping baker's hours, and Mr. Schill's former customers started coming to the bookstore to buy their daily bread. Some, like Norbert Bergmann, a retired Catholic priest, got into the habit of picking up a book or TV guide, too.

Some of Mr. Frühauf's regular customers found the idea strange at first, but they came around quickly. "It's fun to eat breakfast again," said Regina Kistner, who raised her family here, and had been making do with the processed rolls sold at the supermarket. "These taste good," she added, leaving the store with two rolls (one rye and one sesame), a tabloid paper (for her neighbor) and the British romance novel "A Summer at Sea."

Mr. Schill, the baker, said he for one was very happy to have found such an open-minded partner in the bookseller. "There's a saying, I remember learning as a child, from the old people. 'Go with the times, or with time, you'll go.'"


. . .


Locking up after a long, warm morning, Mr. Frühauf paused. He took a look around at the 17th century building that houses his eclectic store, and said he enjoys being at the center of a new network of butchers, bakers and beekeepers. "In Germany, I think there's a tendency now, to be very backward-looking, to say, 'everything used to be better,'" said Mr. Frühauf. "But all you really need are some new ideas."



For the full story, see:

Sally McGrane. "'To Stay Afloat After 100 Years, a German Bookstore Sells Sausage." The New York Times (Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018): A7.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the title "'Would You Like Some Sausage With Your Novel?")






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