Friday, 19 April 2013

The Stuttgart Shopping Tour

Today was all about shopping. I've been trying to concentrate my attention of a certain stretch of Köningstrasse. Many of the tours I have taken pass through this pedestrianised precinct, which is the central spine of the city, but none seem to have any reason to stop here as it is a particularly generic shopping area devoid of all charm.

I have been collecting shopping guides, those small glossy booklets that offer a list of attractive premises where you can unload your euros. I guess these guides are a rather out of date concept but these free maps are still circulated so presumably they must be somewhat effective. I looked at a number of different shopping guides and noted that each guide was tailored to a slightly different ideal customer. Cross-referencing them I noticed that in my part of the street only one shop appeared in all of the guides: Yean's Halle. I went inside.  

At the entrance they were selling traditional costumes for beer festivals. This is the men's section and I was particularly impressed by the pointed hats, they had a small button half way up the hat which, when pressed, makes the top of the hat wiggle to and fro.

The women's section was similarly colourful with bretzels hanging from the ceiling and a ironic wink in the presentation of the tradition. I heard that at the beer festivals it has become quite popular with younger people to dress up in these costumes and to embrace their kitsch qualities. It has got to the point that it can be considered cool (at least to uncool people) to wear this stuff, have a few piercings and combine it with contemporary fashion while packing in the beers and wines. The first of the festivals Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest opens this weekend and by the look of their website it's about as subtle as 30 litre beer barrel. The thought did cross my mind to wear this sort of costume while guiding next week. Fortunately, no sooner did the thought come than it also went.

I then took a look at another sort of shopping tour. This was the guided tour of the Market Hall. It was mostly historical in nature, about the various ups and downs of the place. Like much of Central Stuttgart it was badly damaged during the war and had to resist attempts to tear it down.

Being situated next to Karsplatz, the coach tour drop off point, and being central and amongst the luxury shopping area, it is no surprise that the place has become a tourist attraction in its own right. The place really does not cater to the average shopper, it specialises in expensive foods stuffs on the ground floor and nic-naks for the home around the galleries upstairs. So much has it become a tourist shopping destination that you can buy Market Hall souvenirs such as the highly desirable apron this man is sporting.

And how about this the Market Hall DVD. I bet that would make a great present... 

Last stop today was Tourist Information also know as City Shop, which is telling. The Tourist Services are run by the company Stuttgart Marketing Ltd. They act as the first port of call for visitors and position themselves as the official tourist service.

Looking at their board I then noticed something rather telling: their partners. I remember when I first walked in there and asked for a recommendation of what to see, the woman behind the desk said the Mercedes Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum were the two best attractions. I guess she was simply doing her job of plugging the partners of Stuttgart Marketing. Nowhere in any of the Tourist Information or in their web material did I see any mention of Arttours, but then again I suppose they are simply working for their partners. I did in fact write to Stuttgart Marketing Ltd asking for an interview but I never received a reply. Their business, it appears to be, is in ensuring that the conferences keep coming to Stuttgart Messe and the coaches keep offering tours of the Mercedes Benz Museum. Culture is somebody else's problem. 

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