Will the Trinkhalle thus disappear some time in the future?
Of course, many a Trinkhalle fell victim to structural change. Where there used to be collieries, you now have shopping centres. But such centres are quiet at night with only a big, empty parking lot. Due to their small-size business model, however, Trinkhallen are also ultra-dynamic. At some point in time they started offering fax services, then Internet and then international phone cards. Trinkhallen owners may be traditionalists, on the one hand, but they try to offer products that are up to date, on the other.
Agility, locality, uniqueness - this is something all modern companies are striving for. Should the big players go and learn from the smallest ones?
Trinkhallen are innovative and agile. They once tried to establish Trinkhallen chains. And failed. Actually, their main business concept is not to operate according to an optimised system. Kiosks that have adopted system logistics also look that way. One of the big appeals of the Trinkhallen is their imperfection. They are personal and improvised. Those wanting to offer something new simply turn over their cardboard tray and write: "Today, sandwiches for 1 Euro only".
And how about the competition? Non-stop commitment can meanwhile also be found with other mini-marts.
The pressure is there, certainly. Nobody walks through a factory gate anymore. People drive with their car to the petrol station shop. But I have not come across any petrol station that wants people to stay and that offers what the Trinkhalle can offer: sufficient time to greet one another and have a small chat.
Sounds like a healthy deceleration?
Somewhat. Many large supermarkets are opening flagship stores that advertise with market places inviting people to stay. Some petrol stations are nowadays selling colourful bags. These are attempts to imitate uniqueness and home-made products. But that’s difficult to do. At the Trinkhalle, people invested their first deutschmark in sweets or purchased their first pack of fags. These are close ties. And I have never seen anyone getting impatient because a child had a difficult time deciding what to choose for its bag of candies. Everyone knows what that feels like.
About Dietmar Osses
The historian Dietmar Osses is Director of the Westfälische Landesmuseum für Industriekultur (Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Heritage and Culture) at the Hannover Colliery in Bochum. The exhibition "Treffpunkt Trinkhalle" (Meeting Point Trinkhalle) curated by him is currently on display in Bochum. Osses also published a book about kiosks under the title "Die Bude. Trinkhallen im Ruhrgebiet."