One of the best ways to find off-the-beaten path gems in a new city is to visit thrift stores, as they are often located in up-and-coming communities. When we heard Berlin has a five floor thrift department store we had to go.
I wasn't disappointed. Brenda was!
Upon walking in you immediately encountered a wonderful hat display, yes Berlin is the "City of Hats." But what was even more impressive was the circular staircase with artwork along the wall.
A bit Guggenheimish!
Also on the main floor were some huge vintage ceiling light fixtures, like nothing I have ever seen. A very elegant use of fluorescent tubes. Those Germans are so clever when it comes to simple designs.
The first impression was this is definitely like a department store as the racks were well organized and there were fun vignettes every where, as well as some exquisite miniature mannequins. Boy once this guy gets on a theme it is hard for him to let go.
There were also some fun vintage posters - too bad they weren't for sale.
However, the piece de la resistance was the vintage clothing floor at the top. It was a definitely a walk back in time. Maybe not a walk everyone wants to take. Some of us might want to forget the tacky, wacky clothing we use to wear. The mannequin displays were very strange indeed.
Brenda Struck Out
After being all excited to visit the mega thrift department store, Brenda went home empty handed. While the store was clean, well stocked and well organized, the prices were much the same, or higher than at home. There were no bargains to be had.
I did manage to find some fun wooden children's toys that I will add to my collection - all for 1 Euro.
Oh yes, the thrift store is called Humana, and is at the Frankfurter Tor station. It is part of the Oxfam charity shops and there are several outlets in Berlin.
Across the street are twin mega horizontal office blocks built in the Stalinist style according to the plans of Hermann Henselmann, in 1953 and 1956. On one level, they evoke a sense of intimidation, power, and authority, while on another level they serve as a gateway into the city. The two sentinel-like domed towers looking down on the street further add to sense of intimidation and being watched.
Just down the street from Humana we lucked out to find the Cafe Tasso bookstore. I loved the outside book bins that enhance the pedestrian experience and frame the patio. Inside is a charming cafe with more books. As we had our lunch we couldn't believe the number of people coming and going buying books.
We decided to checked out the small room of books next to the cafe and while everything was well organized there were no prices. Strange? When we asked we were told all books were 1.5 Euros. Then when I went to the washroom I discovered the bookstore continued in the back and downstairs. It was wonderful rabbit warren of treasures. Who knew? I wish I could read German as there were some good bargains.
Oh how I miss McNally Robinson Bookstore and Bistro on Stephen Avenue. Every pedestrian district needs a good bookstore cafe.