Germany's First Bio-market Goes Out of Business


Today it is over. The very first Bio-market in Germany was founded in 1971 under the name "Peace Food". The small business will shut its doors today, unable to compete with the bio-chain outlet which has opened around the corner. It is a story of the evolution of green from extremist niche to capitalist mainstream. And it prompts you to ask yourself: is this good news? Or the end of an era?Today the store is known under the name "Lebensbaum" (Lifetree), and under the ownership of life partners Ronald Brauer and Florence Spitz, it is a direct successor of the Peace Food store. It closes the doors at Winterfeldtstra├če 58, where it relocated when the original Pallasstra├če building was closed for renovations. It was a good move: sales doubled when they opened in 2000 at the new location. The BSE scare of 2001 brought in even more customers and the store peaked with 15 employees. The end started in 2004, when an outlet of a Bio-supermarket chain opened around the corner.

Brauer and Spitz radiate good energy as they accept the final condolences of loyal customers making their last purchases from the nearly bare shelves. Spitz first got involved at the store selling ergonomic stools, then went on to take over the business. She has taken a look at the competition and admits that customers will not lose in quality of products, since both stores source from the same suppliers. The Lebensbaum competed in the price wars for years, and offered a much larger product selection than many a corner bio-market, but in the end they simply could not compete with the special offerings that the chain could make using their market power. Where the customers will lose out: the anonymous service of low-paid interns cannot equal the family atmosphere and specialized advice which the committed staff of Lebensbaum offered. For the staff of Lebensbaum, it was a "lifestyle", a "consciousness", more than just a job.

What piece of wisdom or philosophy does Spitz hope is left behind from the 18 years invested in the business: "that we have done something good...we contributed to the creation of a total lifestyle." And indeed they did. The Lebensbaum is a victim of its own success. The lifestyle which Spitz and Brauer strove to introduce to people has gone mainstream.

Thanks to Ronald Brauer and Florence Spitz; and thanks to all the others who by persistence and perseverance cleared the path for the world to follow. Now there is only one thing to do: hold the green superstores and the purveyors of the green lifestyle to the standards which stores like the Lebensbaum have established. And let's bring green to the masses.

Via ::Berliner Morgenpost (German)

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