The KaDeWe was under construction but had not yet opened, when the charisma of the luxury department store was already enough to make the west of the developing city attractive to other stores as well. Julius Klausner was in the lead. He persuaded his uncle, egg seller Hermann Leiser, to open the city’s largest shoe store on the corner of KaDeWe, Tauentzienstrasse 20. 116 years later, it’s over: Leiser closes his flagship store.
Regular customers were the first to know that in future they would have to do without their first address to buy luxury shoes: the news of the closure and a discount campaign between March 28 and April 7 landed in their mailboxes at end of the week. A long-time employee also reported that the sale should continue until July 16, a colleague spoke of “the end of July.”
It was also said that branches such as those in Tegel, Spandau and Potsdam should continue to exist, as well as the “Leiser Comfort” stores. The owners themselves did not want to comment on the reasons for the closure until next week.
Nils Busch-Petersen of the Berlin-Brandenburg Retail Association told the Tagesspiegel that the closure was “an expression of the profound change” that the pandemic has accelerated. The “commercial DNA” changes when something that has historically grown is lost. For big businesses like Leiser
The process shows that major locations like Tauentzien are also affected by the change: “We are in the midst of a reorientation,” Busch-Petersen continued. On the other hand, however, the opening of the Zalando department store in Tauentzien shows that traditional retail is not an outdated model.
Not one that expires, but a difficult one. This can also be read on the Leiser home page: “The Internet is gradually conquering the four walls of the home and online trading is greatly increasing competitive pressure. The wide range with many individual branches becomes a competitive disadvantage over time,” she says, even if attempts to expand online trading have been made for years.
“Leiser” disappeared long ago from Wilmersdorfer Strasse
It is not the first branch that Leiser has had to close. A visible recall also occurred a few years ago at the corner of Kantstrasse and Wilmersdorfer Strasse. “Burgers” have been sold at the corner store for a long time. Opposite, the new lease was unsuccessful: the large retail space of the clothing store Peek & Cloppenburg has been empty for years.
However, unlike P & C, Leiser was founded in Berlin. As early as 1891, 15 years before he opened the store in Tauentzien, there was the first shoe store at Oranienstrasse 34 in the Kreuzberg district. In the 1920s, Leiser became the largest shoe retailer in Berlin, according to the company. The most representative branch in Tauentzienstraße soon became the company’s flagship.
With the “Aryanization” of the company in 1937 – Klausner and Leiser were Jewish – the history of the company and the family did not end. Klausner returned from emigration after the war as co-CEO: three branches had survived the bombing. Reconstruction was followed by expansion, for example through the acquisition of other shoe companies, including “Stiller”.
This second major Berlin chain was taken over by Leiser in 1975, but the “Stiller” name stuck around for a long time. Anyone new to Berlin wondered for a while about the strange naming phenomenon, to which a joke was even devoted:
A tourist asks a Berlin policeman: “Which is the nearest shoe store?”
Tourist (speaking lower): “What is the nearest shoe store?”
Tourist whispers: “What is the nearest shoe store?”
In 1975 “Leiser” bought the competitor “Stiller”
As a result of this and other acquisitions, the Tagesspiegel reported on December 10, 1975: “Leiser now has 18 own outlets in Berlin, 16 Neumann shoe stores, 14 Stiller stores and nine Schuhhof outlets acquired by Stiller.” At that time, the founder Klausner had already died 25 years ago and since then the company had been continued by his business partner Dietrich Bahner from Augsburg and was so successful that the company had 150 branches throughout Germany and Prague on the centenary of its foundation. in 1991. However, this evolution has been broken for a long time, as evidenced by the closures of recent years. Regular customers still have the other branches. But it is believed that the long history of Tauentzien 20 will end in July.
In front of Julius Klausner’s former home at Fasanenstraße 83 in Charlottenburg, a stumbling block commemorates the founder of Leiser and his escape from the Nazis. The house next to the Delphi cinema no longer exists.