Most of the time, I really do not enjoy grocery shopping. I generally avoid the commissary until the cupboards, fridge and freezer are pretty bare and the few ingredients left don’t really go together. Can I use canned pumpkin, lasagna noodles, and applesauce to make dinner? No? Are you sure? Maybe I’ll go grocery shopping tomorrow. Maybe.
Of course, just like a kid playing with her friend’s toys, grocery shopping in a different country is much more appealing! What products do they have? Can I figure out the labels? What’s the craziest thing I can find? Even old favorites are better with a foreign label!
For these reasons, and more, I really like shopping at Globus. Globus is a family run chain of grocery stores. The first was in St. Wendel. Now there are 44 in Germany, as well as 15 in the Czech Republic and 6 more in Russia! The closest one to me is in Kaiserslautern, but chances are, there is one pretty close to you no matter where you are in Germany.
Let me take you on a little tour of Globus:
First, grab a cart outside. There isn’t a line of them inside. This is one of the few places where you don’t need a Euro to free your cart from its neighbors.
Once you get inside, you will see a few mini-stores located near the entrance before you get to the main store. Some are owned and operated by Globus, and others are independent vendors. Here are a few highlights: The jewelry store is a great place to get a replacement watch battery even if you didn’t buy your watch there. If you know better than grocery shopping on an empty stomach, there is an inexpensive, but still delicious, cafeteria-style eatery with seating for about 100. There are some clothing stores, a vinegar store (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!), an apothecary, and a travel agent.
For convenience, they have place a mini version of their bakery, deli counter and bakery in this front section as well. That way if you only came in to get a few staples, you don’t have to enter the main store.
Inside the main store, take note of the customer service counter. You’ll use this later for your VAT form. They also handle basic mail through the German mail system, the Deutsche Post. This will come in handy if you ever need to cancel a German contract, such as your cell phone. Remember that these contracts need to be terminated via written notice sent through the mail. This is also the place for photo printing.
Just like Stateside stores, there is an area for seasonal items near the front. I like checking this area out for a little view of modern German culture. In the early fall they had the items to make your own Oktober Fest. Later, you could find advent calendars filled with about every kind of German candy. Just before New Year’s we got our lucky New Year’s pfennig (euro cent) from a chimney sweep. That is supposed to be lucky!
Keep going to find items for your house. We’ve bought 220 light bulbs and starters for our home’s florescent lights in this department. In the car department, we’ve found our parking disk and (mandatory for driving in France) breathalyzer. They also many 220V small appliances like curling irons, hair dryers, coffee makers, and irons. These are the kind of thing that might not be worth hauling out the transformer for every time.
Beyond that, lays the toy department with lots of playmobile, Schleich animals, and board games. I think a classic board game, printed in German, would be a great gift! Continuing on, you find the baby department and then the children’s and adult clothing. At this point, you may want to have a sizing guide with you so you know if size 37 shoes will fit (yes, if your foot is a women’s size 7 in America).
Household items are next. Stock up on toilet paper! These are the best prices we’ve found for it on or off base. You can also find products designed for your German washer, dryer, and dishwasher (Like special salt. You know about that, right?).
I’ve heard from more than one credible source that German shampoo is designed for German water and you should switch over while living here. I personally haven’t done that, but there is a shampoo available at Globus with beer in it. If I were switching, that would be the first one I’d try.
Okay, take a deep breath! Next up is the food and this is where it gets good! Easily the most crowded part of the store is the bakery (Meisterbäckerei) section. It might be the smell that draws everyone in. All the bread, and there are so many kinds, is baked on site daily. Any that remains at closing is donated and they start fresh in the morning. If you’d like it sliced, there is a do-it-yourself hand bread slicer.
Nearby is the fruit and vegetable (Obst und Gemüse) department. Before you start comparing the price, remember the posted price is per kilogram. A kilo is just over two pounds, so for the posted price you are getting twice as much as you are used to. As often as possible the produce is grown locally. See if you can find the Suppe bundle. It’s all the veggies you will need to make your own soup.
Next up is the world of cheese (Käsetheke)! You can buy pre-packaged (cut and packaged at the store daily) cheese or from the counter. The price posted at the counter is per 100 grams. For me, a stick of butter is a good visual on how much that is. The variety of cheese is truly amazing, especially when you compare it to the variety at an average American super market. According to their website, they have around 400 different varieties! You can find a nice variety of lactose free (laktosefrei). Some of our favorites have been pineapple, wasabi, and basil (three different cheeses!).
Coming up next are the seafood (Fischtheke) and butcher (Fachmetzgerei). 80 different kinds of seafood are delivered fresh daily. The same goes for the meat department. The regulations on meat in Germany are very strict and you only find hormone-free meat with no additives in all German meat markets. In both the fish and meat department, you will see a posted sign saying where the products have come from. Again, anything prepackaged was packaged that day in the store.
In the middle of the store you will find the frozen, dairy section and packaged foods. We always like looking at all the different kinds of potato chips. Okay we don’t just look; they make their way home with us too. Our last find was bacon, but we’ve also tried sweet Thai chili, curry and roasted chicken as well. Not your average selection of ridges or flat! One isle in this department cracks me up: the American department. What do American’s eat? Peanut butter, Oreos and hot sauce apparently.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the drink department may be it for me. Each Globus employs a wine consultant that has been trained at German Wine Sommelier School. The Sommelier at the K-Town Globus is equally known for his excellent advice in wine and his wonderful mustache! Wines from around the world, but especially Europe, are available at all price points (€1.00 – €100.00). We’ve found some very nice wines for some very-very nice prices. If you are looking for a dry wine, look for the word “troken,” but if you prefer the sweeter wines, look for “lieblich.” “Halb troken” is somewhere in-between,
Besides wine, Globus also offers hard liquor and beer sections. For the beer and other bottled soft drinks, you will see a variety of prices. You can buy most by the case as well as the individual bottle. Remember for most of these bottles, whether glass or plastic, you will pay a small deposit (pfand) for each bottle. You can return the bottles to any recycling center (by law) and receive the pfand back. Check out this artcle for details. Globus has a large recycling area near this department as well as the small one in the front.
At the checkout, you are expected to bring your own bags for your groceries. If you didn’t, you can purchase some at the counter. With or without a bag, the common practice is to put everything back into your cart when you are done.
Before heading out to your car, take your receipt, cart load of purchased groceries, and VAT form to the customer service counter. Globus lets you add multiple receipts to one form, but all the purchases should be from about a 30-day timeframe. Remember that the VAT for food is only 7% compared to 19% for most other items, including alcohol.
This brings us to the end of our field trip to Globus! Hopefully you can use some of this information on your next German grocery-shopping trip.
On the website you can look for more information to the Globus closest to you.
The information below is for the Kaiserslautern Globus.
This location is near the Opel Circle. From the Autobahn, follow the signs for Opel. Exit the circle on the opposite direction (East) from the Opel plant and you will see Globus on your right.
Monday – Saturday: 0800 – 2200
Closed on Sundays
Note: Special thanks to the Ramstein Airmen and Family Readiness Center. They offer a free tour of Globus, which I took advantage of when I first arrived in Germany. I highly suggest it for the information as well as tons of free samples!