Friday, March 13, 2009

Auf der Jagd: Snäppchen

From the upcoming issue of Zusammen/Getrennt magazine

In the multicultural Kiez of Karl Marx Str. in Berlin's Neukölln district there is a proliferation of culturally specific phenomena: Spielotheks (game emporiums), Friseure (hairdressers), Döner Imbiss, and last but not least, the ubiquitous Euro stores, (we'll call them collectively EinEuro for the sake of anonymity), the European counterparts of capitalist bastion Dollar General Stores in the U.S. These shops are a bargain hunter's paradise, depending on what you're bargaining for. Chock-a-block with sometimes-useless, sometimes-fascinating finds, a random audit yields items culled from an apparently Timothy Leary-devised scavenger hunt. Our correspondent penetrates the inner sanctum of this paean to capitalist consumption, which has spread from the shores of the US of A to the Deutsche Hauptstadt, in an interview with a customer service representative from one of the local outlets, with the aim of uncovering what, if anything, is arm aber filthy about this outfit.

Q: Is everything at EinEuro really one Euro?
A: About half of the items for purchase are more than that, actually. In order to make a profit they have to raise prices, it's simply unfeasible to keep everything at one Euro.

Q: Can you name three sexy items sold at EinEuro ?
A: (Instantly doubles over) Ha, well, sometimes we get in edible underwear...then, we have fluffy handcuffs...and...well, we always have underwear and condoms!

J: New condoms? Or used?

Q: That was easier then I thought it would be. Do you get a discount at the 1 euro store, and how many items for one euro can you get with the discount?
A: Well, we only get a discount on the more expensive products. Our discount is set at 20%, so it really wouldn't be worth it to take that off of a one euro product.

Q: Describe the average shopper at EinEuro.
A: Well, we do get people of all ages, mostly women with Kinderwagen (strollers) and Kopftuche (headscarves). The men who come in tend to buy only the One Euro items, whereas the women will get the more expensive items. They usually come in droves at the beginning and end of each month, after they get their paychecks.

Q: Do customers buy personal hygiene or cleaning products you could buy in another store, but are much cheaper at the one Euro store? Give a couple examples. Are there any products that you use at home?
A: The hygiene products are not much cheaper or more expensive than at normal stores. Some examples would be hand soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and kitchen supplies. We also carry...what are these things called (grabs a small packet of something white, with German words on it)? Antibacterial hand wipes. We also carry of those things you can clean or dust your floor’s a Swiffer, but not a Swiffer, it's generic...

Q: Do you sell food, drinks or snacks at EinEuro?
A: We carry drei-Liter Flaschen of drinks, but they are always exactly 3001 ml bottles, because by law if it contains over 3000 ml of liquid, then there is no Pfand [bottle refund]. Just an example of the German bureaucracy.

Q: What’s the most bizarre item at EinEuro?
Definitely, definitely it would be an ashtray that was made of wood...I don't know, it looked like wood...but it was in the shape of a penis!

Q: OK, next...
A: Wait, there's another item I thought know those tissue box covers? We got in a whole load of Kleenex box covers, extremely kitschlich, with like Russian teddy bears all over them...the tackiest things...after only one day, we were sold out!

Q: What is, in your opinion, the best deal at EinEuro?
A: Probably the name brand items which we get in occasionally, Tchibo for example. The name brand clothing is a better deal because the products are of a higher quality. But shoppers shouldn't expect a high quality product in general at EinEuro.

Q: What is the sexiest thing (s) about working at EinEuro?
A: I flirted once with a guy, and I sometimes meet gays in there.

Q: Are there any products at EinEuro that are toxic?
A: I don't know the exact toxicity levels, but I think the products are often quite polluted, because they are very stinky! Like the fake Crocodiles, for example.

Q: What makes EinEuro better than the fifty cent store? Is there a rivalry between the two?
A: Is there a 50 cent store here in Berlin already? I didn´t know that.
Perhaps there is if there is one around here...we have enough rivalry between the one Euro stores!

Q: Finally, could you survive for a month if you were trapped in the store?
A: Perhaps, if you get along with only drinking, cause we hardly sell anything to eat. Sometimes some sweets.

Q: Do famous people ever shop there?
A: We haven't had any yet. Unless I didn't recognize them, but I would have.

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