‘Der Späti ‘is Berlin’s convenience store – written about and photographed in a great book by Christian Klier. It covers their history, the owners (many of whom are of Turkish origin), what they sell and the customers – all presented in a lively graphic style. The Spätis are warmly regarded in Berlin (there are more than a thousand of them), they sell anything from beer to buttons and act as community centres for local neighbourhoods.As Stuart Braun says (see link below) ‘These indie businesses are the antithesis of the branded convenience store: They’re irregular, improvised, intimate, reflections of the people who run them.’
To keep their businesses afloat, the spätis rely on opening long hours and Sunday trading has always been critical, as supermarkets are closed. However, following a decision by Berlin’s Higher Administrative Court in 2012, Spätis that don’t primarily sell flowers, newspapers, bread, and dairy products now close on Sundays. But this has not been a popular decision with many Berliners who regard them as part of the city’s culture – it could also mean the end of the line for many of these small businesses that do so much more than sell convenience items.