Person scrolling on tablet with three shopping bags in front.

Person scrolling on tablet with three shopping bags in front. ()

Moving to Germany is an exciting and wonderful experience. While you should definitely explore new places and embrace the culture and lifestyle, there are times when it is useful to know where you can find all of your wants and needs from your typical American life. Whether you are an arts-and-crafter, an avid reader or a frugal shopper, there is a German equivalent for you.

Home improvement: If you are used to heading down to the local Home Depot or Lowes every time you want to paint a room or install a light fixture, all of your home improvement needs can be solved at your local Globus and OBI. My spouse spent his high school and college years working at both of the aforementioned American retailers and when we needed a specific screw to install our German washing machine, we went down the road to Globus and he quickly noted, “It doesn’t matter if it is American or German, all of these DIY stores are designed the same,” and then quickly found his way to the needed item without asking an associate a single question. The first Globus opened in Saarland in 1828 and today includes 57 market halls, 90 DIY stores and six consumer electronics stores across Germany with additional locations in Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. The first OBI opened in 1970 in Hamburg-Poppenbuettel, has hundreds of locations across Germany and is a Stars and Stripes Best of Germany winner for best “home improvement store.”

Low-cost large retail: When I was younger, I would go to Walmart, grab a DVD out of the $5 bin and head over to the snacks aisle for cheap boxes of candy and bags of chips and have a frugal movie theater experience from the comfort of my own home. While Walmart may not be available to German shoppers, Kaufland is. With items such as food, beer, exercise equipment, home decor, outdoor furniture and hardware tools, you will find everything you need at Kaufland at a great price. And with almost 700 stores across Germany, there is bound to be a Kaufland near you.

Books: If cozying up in the chair of a bookstore with a cup of coffee and the latest bestseller or rare find in a Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million is one of your favorite American pastimes, fear not, because Germany has both Thalia and Mayersche for all your bookworm needs. Owned by the same company, there are roughly 300 Thalias and Mayersches across Germany that offer multi-storied book selections, on-site cafes and coffee shops, books in English and huge magazine selections.

Discount clothing: If finding that $3 tank top in the clearance rack at Burlington or T.J. Maxx (or T.K. Maxx in Germany) gives you the biggest rush, do not worry. Cute, comfortable and affordable clothing is not a foreign idea in Germany. KiK is an acronym for “Kunde ist König,” which translates to the “customer is king.” It has over 2,500 stores across Germany to help you find your next dress, swimsuit, accessories and shoes for men, women, children and babies.

Hobby/craft: If your ideal Saturday is spent picking up supplies at Hobby Lobby or Michaels for your next project of knitting a scarf, painting, scrapbooking or making a candle, you don’t have to put away those crafting scissors just yet. idee has all of your DIY and party supplies needs with over 40 branches.

While moving to Germany can be a bit of culture shock with all the Sunday closings and the sun being out until ten ‘o’clock at night during the summer months, hopefully having these stores makes the adjustment easier.

author picture
Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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