The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 24, 2007

German gift store holds its own

Domeiers of New Ulm opened in 1934

NEW ULM — Holiday shoppers are as important to Domeiers German Store as they are to any family-owned niche gift shop dotting the streets of Main Street Minnesota.

Don’t expect Marlene Domeier, the New Ulm store’s second owner since it was first opened by her mother in 1934, to kowtow to the “black Friday” or “bargain buster” crowds, though. She doesn’t have to. Never has.

Domeiers is nine blocks south of Minnesota Street’s downtown retail district and eight blocks north of the businesses surrounding New Ulm’s Target store. And the little store that specializes in German foods, books, music, cards, clocks, decorations and many other hard-to-find imported items is miles away from the new Super Wal-Mart store on the north edge of town.

That doesn’t keep the customers from coming. They arrive in cars sporting license plates from every state in the country and, sometimes, by the bus load. For many who browse the store’s overflowing shelves, which hold everything from real licorice and Bavarian mustard on one side of the store to incense-burning “smokers” and etched beer steins on the other side, it’s trip back in time.

Anne Nierengarten of Arkansas noticed a bouncing tree ornament during a trip to the store Saturday. It was just like one her mother bought for her as a child. She’s been visiting the store her entire life, stopping in whenever she was in New Ulm to visit her grandparents.

This is how she described the store to her fiancé, Mark Eldridge:

“When we were walking in, I told him, ‘It’s the smallest store with the most stuff that I’ve ever seen in my life,’” she said.

Eldridge has been to Germany. He said the store reminds him of the shops he saw in small towns while backpacking across the country. The only difference is the stores in Germany were usually hundreds of years old. Domeiers is only 73 years old.

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