Association wants Berlin Spätis to have same status as petrol stations
A recent report by Berliner Zeitung has revealed the extent to which Berlin’s late-night shops are under threat. The Späti Association is calling for the shops to have the same commercial status as petrol stations.
Just 1.000 Spätis left in Berlin
According to Alper Baba, representative of the Berliner Späti Association, there are just 1.000 late-night shops left in the German city, compared to the 2.000 that were open back in 2016.
An important part of Berlin’s cultural fabric, Spätis are what the bodega is to New York or what the corner shop is to Britain’s streets, but with opening times around the clock. But with ever stricter rules on outdoor seating and opening hours on a Sunday, the Berlin Späti Association believes the shops need urgent attention if they are to survive.
Spätis should be exempt from closing on Sundays, “Like shops in train stations or at petrol stations”, Baba told Berliner Zeitung recently. President of the Berlin Trade Association Nils Busch-Petersen is inclined to agree with Baba, though it is unclear whether he agrees that the exemption should only be extended to Spätis or all kinds of shops. “The Sunday ban is no longer in keeping with the times,” Busch-Petersen told the local newspaper.
Are Berlin’s Späti owners being treated unfairly?
With police and local authorities in Berlin cracking down on Spätis more regularly since 2016, the Association believes that the businesses are being unfairly treated. “Lawyers advised us to form an association [...] because the local authorities were putting such pressure on [Spätis] at the time,” Baba told the newspaper, saying that the way Ordnungsamt employees treated him and fellow shop owners made them feel like they were doing something illegal, even though they weren’t doing anything wrong.
For Baba, this treatment is not unrelated to the fact that the majority of Spätis are run by people with migration backgrounds. “They wouldn’t treat Germans without migration backgrounds like that,” the 57-year-old told the newspaper.
While he says the so-called “Späti-hunt” has calmed down since 2016, many shop owners have pulled down the shutters in this time, meaning the shops are disappearing from Berlin’s streets. While Baba says that the association has written to Mayor Kai Wegner to bring the issue to his attention, they have not yet received a response.
In the meantime, Berlin Senate representative Matthias Kuder took the opportunity to reaffirm the current rules, “The legal situation is clear: on Sundays, the doors of retail shops are closed on principle”.
Thumb image credit: Felix Geringswald / Shutterstock.com