Station: [252] A Schocken Department Store in Chemnitz

On 15th May 1930 the Schocken Department Store was opened in the presence of the directors of the Schocken limited partnership, representatives of the municipality and the mayor of Chemnitz.  So how was this possible at a time of economic decline?

 The New York Stock-Exchange crash in October 1929 caused the first worldwide economic crisis, which also led to mass unemployment and pay cuts in Germany. Many department stores had to close. According to Salman Schocken, the effects were also palpable in some departments of his stores, but he believed in the strength of his business and therewith in the success of the newly opened store in Chemnitz, which was to be the largest of the Schocken branches with over 1000 employees.

The plans for all new locations were preceded by economic research: what was the spending power of the inhabitants and where should the new department store be located? 

„[…] For as long as we have been considering opening new stores, and that has been since 1903, we have always had Chemnitz in mind“...

… Salman Schocken recalled.  The Industrial Revolution helped Chemnitz achieve a significant economic upturn. Spacious factories, above all for machine construction had been built, and the town was regarded as, „ Saxony’s Manchester.“

In around 1930 Chemnitz had about 360.000 inhabitants and the spending power of these people was still sufficiently high.

The Schocken brothers chose the properties at Brückenstraße, or Bridge Street 9 to 11 in the centre of Chemnitz. These were near the station, which was used by many commuters, near the splendid Königstraße, or Kings Road and the popular Brückenmarkt, or Bridge Market. In addition, a conjunction of numerous arterial roads was not far away, which also was an advantage in terms of goods transport and the anticipated flow of customers from the surrounding area.

Despite the deteriorating economy, the Chemnitz department store showed a good turnover. The reason for this was a new group of customers. The middle and upper professional categories had to be more careful with their spending as a result of pay cuts, who instead of shopping in expensive specialist stores, sought out the cheaper department stores. The high quality, reasonably priced range of goods at Schocken had obviously satisfied this class of customers.

The successful development in Chemnitz meant that the Schocken Company also recorded an increase in sales in 1930/31. So the Schocken-company business strategy not only proved to be extremely successful, but also crisis proof!