Radebeul: Radebeul: The Sauermann bookstore has been in existence for 100 years

Radebeul: The Sauermann bookstore has been in existence for 100 years

In the history of the company, the family has always been able to successfully occupy niches. Its anniversary will be celebrated from June 30 to July 2.

The Sauermann family has been running a bookstore in Radebeul for three generations. Today’s owner, Ute Sauermann, stands between books and photos of grandfather and company founder Heinrich (right) and his son and her father Gottfried.
© Arvid Mueller

Radebeul. Ute Sauermann initially thought that the 100th anniversary was nothing special. But when the 49-year-old looks back on the history of her retail store in Radebeul on Meißner Straße 264 from its inception to the present day, it quickly becomes clear that this is cause for celebration. The third-generation family-run bookstore has survived hyperinflation, WWII, waves of nationalization and expropriation in the GDR, as well as reunification, and is still able to face the big retail chains and internet giants.

The history of the Sauermann bookstore begins in Leipzig. “My grandfather Heinrich Sauermann was a bookseller by profession,” reports a law graduate, but initially earned his bread in a market town in a different profession. He was selling fish at his uncle’s shop. But on Christmas 2021, there was a rift between them, with Heinrich Sauermann registering the company on January 1, 2022. His apartment served as the seat of the company. From there, the 27-year-old sends books to Prague students who were eagerly ordering them from Germany at the time due to the currency gap.

Step by step

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From 1928 in Radebeul

But when the shipping company was only a year old, Heinrich and his wife Elise faced their first major challenge. During the hyperinflation of 1923, the Reichmark depreciated at an unimaginable pace every day. For example, at the end of mid-November this year, the postage for the letter was one billion marks. The couple had to shop around for new customers and find a niche by selling specialized gardening literature to garden centers. The apartment quickly became too small, so the Sauermann family were looking for a home of their own.

During the long blockade, Ute Sauermann reorganized her business.  The furniture was taken over from the closed St.  Benno in Dresden.

During the long blockade, Ute Sauermann reorganized her business. The furniture was taken over from the closed St. Benno in Dresden.
© Mateusz Schumann

The search led her to Radebeul in 1928, where she moved to Winzerstraße. “There were many garden centers in Lößnitz, the transport links were very good and it was not far to Rumburg’s original home in Schluckenauer Zipfel, where my parents lived. The mail order book trade has grown steadily since Radebeul. From here, Heinrich Sauermann visited gardening fairs all over Germany and sent his specialist books to gardening companies throughout the German Empire. The Sauermann bookstore became the exclusive trading partner of the Paul Parey garden publishing house and became known throughout the country.

establishment of an antiquarian bookstore

However, with the outbreak of World War II, the mainstay of the fair collapsed. A new one was needed. Heinrich Sauermann hired Carl Finster’s stationery shop as a sub-tenant. Now began the story that Radebeulers still associate this business with today: here they found their reading material, from classics to contemporary fiction and non-fiction, to detective stories and non-fiction.

The store was at that time next to its current location and Heinrich Sauermann quickly took over the business completely. After his death in 1961, his wife continued to run the business, until the bookstore was taken over by the youngest of his four children, Gottfried Sauermann, in 1963. It also involved selling a general assortment of books and shipping gardening literature. The customers were now agricultural production cooperatives, LPG. He also founded an antiquities shop.

A new beginning at 49

Under the pressure of the wave of nationalization in the 1970s, Gottfried and his wife Inge became contract booksellers. “It was something between private and public,” says daughter Ute. So the Sauermanns got their books from the popular bookshop, but they could continue their business on their own and choose the assortment themselves. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and reunification took place in 1990, the Sauermann family found themselves at a crossroads: “The mail order business ceased to function. It was hard to survive with a small shop, ”recalls Ute Sauermann. . In addition, there was a termination of the lease. Her father was faced with a decision: to quit or start over.

At the age of 49, he opted for the latter, took out a loan of half a million Deutsche marks, and bought a neighboring house. He found Dresdner Bank as a lender. Their staff made it clear to him that he had received funding only because he was under 50 years old. On January 16, 1993, the Sauermann family opened their current shop at Meißner Strasse 264. The general bookshop moved to the ground floor, the antique shop upstairs, and the wine shop to the cellar.

present on the internet

Ute Sauermann was studying law at that time. And legal libraries were established in Dresden. So her father found a different niche, stocked the libraries with legal literature. He was also tech-savvy and interested in computers. At the turn of the millennium, he began selling antiquities and books online.

Online trading helped Ute Sauermann and her three employees survive the crisis at the crown. It has been operating since 2008. “Time has shaken us a lot,” says the mother of a twelve-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son of the pandemic. When it came to the hundredth anniversary earlier this year, she didn’t feel like celebrating at all. A letter from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry drew her attention to the fact that here in eastern Germany there is an exception when the family business has been in existence continuously for 100 years. So Ute Sauermann decided to make up for the company’s June birthday without crown restrictions.

Last Saturday, there was a meeting with current and nine former employees as well as representatives of publishers and business partners. There will be a celebration with clients next week. On Thursday 30 June 2022 at 6.30 pm Ralf Günther will lecture from his recently published book “Goethe in Karlsbad”. On Friday, July 1, 2022, between 15:00 and 18:00, small games with prizes await customers. All children and all young book lovers who visit the bookstore dressed as heroes of children’s books will receive a gift from the book. And on Saturday, July 2, 2022, from 9:00 to 12:00, customers who visit the bookstore will receive a glass of sparkling wine.


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