“Anything else?” “Yes, some oil, please. I’ve brought my own bottle”. “With pleasure,” says Frau Morlock, as she opens the little spigot and decants half a litre into the bottle. “I also need some star pasta”, says Frau Immel, “Would you mind filling this jar to the half-way mark?” “Of course,” answers Katharina Morlock and fetches the pasta from the drawer on the shelf. “Already the Grand Duke’s birthday next week. How time flies, eh, Frau Immel?” “Good thing you mentioned it, Frau Morlock. I always bake a Bundt cake for my Gustav on the day. So you’d better weigh out half a pound each of flour and sago for me, too.” “Gladly, Frau Immel. I’ll pop it into this paper bag for you, shall I?”
That’s what a typical conversation in the forerunner of Eppingen’s supermarket would have sounded like in around 1900. In the grocer’s, haberdasher’s and cordage store run by Katharina Morlock.
All depictions: © Stadt- und Fachwerkmuseum Eppingen
It stocked virtually all people’s everyday needs. By the standards of its day, it was an absolute treasure house. Exotic goods from the colonies were in especially high demand. Everybody was talking about German South-West Africa (present-day Namibia).
And the store was redolent with a very particular scent.
Whether pasta, an open tub of fresh sauerkraut, apricots, sweets, all kinds of haberdashery, cigars, laces, spices, soap, and many other items – Katharina Morlock was almost always able to help.
Unlike today, people were helpless in the face of regional crop failures in those days. Crops that couldn’t be harvested, couldn’t be marketed or sold. That meant famine. It was that simple.
There was no excess plastic packaging, which is a major concern now, due to pollution of the environment. Most goods were filled into containers brought in by the customers, or into small paper bags. However, cigars were an exception. They were dispensed in cigar boxes, and those in turn were beneficial in two ways. You could use them to store collections of small items – or as kindling in cold winters.
For the children, who visited Frau Morlock with eyes bright and a shopping list in one hand, the shop was a real wonderland. Every time they shopped for their parents, Frau Morlock would reward them by reaching into the big jar of sweeties.
The Morlock family ran their shop like this until the 1950s. But in the end, even they had to give way to progress, with the emergence of new, ever larger supermarkets.
Many Eppingen residents still cherish fond memories of the unmatched charm of the old grocery store.