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Christmas atmosphere in Beuel: The Oberkasseler Kö shines with a christmassy glow

Christmas atmosphere in Beuel : The Oberkasseler Kö shines with a christmassy glow

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Oberkassel traders are not panicking. They have given the Königswinterer Straße, called Kö by residents, a Christmassy glow.

The Königswinterer Straße in Oberkassel is affectionately called Kö by its inhabitants. Although the town has many beautiful streets, lanes and alleys worth seeing, the thoroughfare has a unique selling point: between Jakobstraße and the square next to the honour monument are many stores that invite you to stroll and shop. This doesn’t mean that there are no shops apart from in this street where you can shop and stop for a bite to eat, but they are not so concentrated. This makes Oberkassel the only place in the district of Beuel besides the centre of Beuel that has such a shopping mile.

In the current pre-Christmas period, when no Christmas market may take place because of coronavirus, the Oberkassel advertising association had the good idea to offer stars to the stores on the Kö to hang outside, which shine from dusk onwards and thus create a wintery and Christmassy atmosphere. "The first 40 stars were sold out in no time," says Christian Schönen from the Oberkassel advertising association and "the repeat order is also almost sold out." From sunset, the glitter of lights together with the lovingly decorated stores create an impressive atmosphere.

Even if some stores are still closing or have already closed, such as the Confiserie Georgia Ramon or the cult record store of Raimund Kron, the vacancy rate of sales space in Oberkassel is low. "The special thing about our stores is that they are all owner-managed. You won't find a store on our Kö that belongs to one of the big chains," says Schönen.

"Coronavirus has changed our business slightly"

The coronavirus crisis was also a major challenge for businesses in Oberkassel. Petra Schönen, owner of the ladies' boutique "Herzklopfen", relied on social media, Facebook, Instagram and her homepage. "That way I could easily reach my regular customers and keep them up to date." She took orders and delivered packages to customers. "Having a personal relationship with my customers was a huge advantage. That way, I was able to contain the financial losses." Just before the second lockdown, she had invested in a "Men's Corner" and is hoping to have a summer collection next year.

Simone Gerwing has also invested, and opened the "Kaffee schmeckt" on the Königswinterer Straße in the summer. Now, during the second lockdown, she has been forced to switch to "Coffee to go".

Sebastian Schippule is the owner of "Savvy Nosh", an upscale bistro. He had to close the restaurant part of his store because of the pandemic. From Tuesday to Friday he switched to take-away sales from 12 noon to 3 p.m. On Saturdays, he now offers a "three-course menu to go" on advance order. "People can then schedule the meal at home," he says. "What we offer here has been well received by the people of Oberkassel." Nevertheless, he feels a reluctance by people to go out at all, which has led to a loss of sales for him. "I have applied for the November help package and hope that this time it works out," because he received nothing at all from the spring aid, which was supposed to cover rent, among other things. He had to pay it all back because he was generating revenue.

"Coronavirus has changed our business slightly," reports Melanie Bernhard from Kreuz-Apotheke. "We now deliver to many more customers’ homes. Currently, doctors are allowed to send prescriptions directly to the chemist at the request of patients. Customers can also send their prescriptions via an app, and the original prescription is picked up on delivery. "Sales have hardly fallen off, they have largely just shifted," says Bernhard. Due to the use of coronavirus masks, the demand for prescriptions against infectious diseases has decreased, whereas the demand for disinfectants and gloves has increased.

Sonja Wenzelmann from the Becker perfumery views the current situation positively. "We are also looking ahead confidently in this situation. We have very loyal regular customers for whom we give everything. The mutual trust is having a positive effect". Many years in the same place, with an established customer base appears to be paying off.

"After the lockdown, things went well in Oberkassel and the customers did not stay away," says Christian Schönen. "Basically, it can be said that the crisis is certainly difficult for everyone, but innovative businesses that come up with special solutions for this time can survive it quite well".

(Original text, Rainer Schmidt; translation, John Chandler)