BERLIN – Mannequins models toilet paper. Noodles in the sweater aisle. These are just a few of the tricks that some German clothing stores use to get around the country’s strict lockdown measures.
As Germany restricts non-essential companies in an attempt to stem its third pandemic wave, some store owners are adding “important” items to their inventory in hopes of boosting the rules.
Last month, Modehaus Kuhn, a family-run clothing store in the southwestern German town of Bad Mergentheim, transformed itself into a “toilet paper flagship store”
“We did it to stay open and generate sales that are fundamentally crucial to our survival,” Kuhn said. “On the other hand, it is satire that simply criticizes the injustices from [government] decisions.”
While important companies such as grocery stores and pharmacies have been open throughout Germany with few restrictions, customers in non-essential stores may be required to show a negative coronavirus test, order appointments or place orders online. Kuhn said it is “absurd” to enforce hygiene measures in some stores, but not others. Under government measures, his revenue fell by about 30 percent. With toilet paper gimmicks, it has increased “a lot,” Kuhn said.
Clothing stores across Germany have called Kuhn for advice on how to implement the idea. However, as more states face increased pressure from the federal government to limit the number of infections, many stores have given in to government restrictions. This week, German leaders pushed for a national law to enforce stricter lockdown measures across the country.
“The air is getting very thin,” Kuhn said, referring to the new federal law. “We’ll probably have to close again, too.”