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.

The Swiss Invasion by Milan Gagnon

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. 

Moccamaster morning with Ethiopian Wild Forest coffee from Kaffeerösterei Konstanz