You don’t shop on Saturday if you live in Konstanz, Germany, a 1,400-year-old city of 83,000 people where the Rhine meets the Bodensee. That’s when carloads of Swiss shoppers queue up to get waved into Germany, single-file, by bored border guards. Thousands of others enter less ceremoniously on foot or bike.
They are largely headed to one destination: the five-story (plus seven levels of parking) Lago Center. Opened in 2004, the massive mall includes a nine-screen megaplex and all the dining options you could want. The Swiss visitors pick clean the racks of cut-rate continental couture at the H&M. They leave bare the shelves at the low-end Aldi supermarket. And they make Konstanz’s multiple branches of the DM toiletries chain absolute hell, lining up a half-dozen deep, their shopping carts overflowing with organic toothpaste, name-brand diapers, and pomegranate-scented conditioner.
Slate published a piece about the town I live in! It’s title and some paragraphs are a bit hyperbolic, and the translation of our Swiss-German scene for transatlantic audiences are sometimes a bit inaccurate for an insider, but in general it’s a good overview of our town, it’s Swiss sister, the open border, the shopping habits, and the challenges (and opportunities) that they create. Well worth the read.