The pleasure of St Gallen’s enticingly unique shops

May 19, 2021, No comments

It was the goats that caught my eye. A family of five lined up along the pavement, begging me to stop and have a closer look. So I did. And of course I ended up going into the shop (though I didn’t buy any goats). The shop in question? Alpästärn, a real treasure-trove of Swiss handicrafts that were hard to resist.

Alpästärn was started by Boris Zaalberg and Alexandra Bühler with the aim of supporting local businesses that produce original Swiss handicrafts. The St Gallen shop is their second and had been open precisely one day when I popped in. I loved their range of Scherenschnitte lanterns and the multitude of carved wooden goods. Definitely a shop I’ll go back to.

I entered a different world altogether on the other side of the Abbey. In the Lüchinger Galerie it is always Christmas, every day of the year. If you can’t find a tree ornament for you here, then you have no Christmas spirit, although I’m not sure I want a bratwurst decoration in my tree. I was bizarrely tempted to buy one with the Bernese flag one though.

One shop I couldn’t resist was Nanna’s Bunte Küche, a delight for anyone who loves food. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many herbs and spices gathered in one place. Not only the likes of cinnamon and sesame, but also creations like Moroccan tagine and rosemary salt. Plus ready-to-cook mixes like orange risotto or tabouleh. I might have bought a few things…

Last stop was one of the oldest shops in town, Baumgartner & Co, which has been trading at Multergasse 6 since 1799. Not only that but it’s still owned and run by the Baumgartner family. Since 1900, they’ve been roasting and selling coffee to their loyal customers, along with over 200 types of tea plus a bewildering aray of spirits and liqueurs.

What I loved about mooching around the pedestrianised shopping streets is that St Gallen has a good dose of unique shops. Yes, there are the ones you find in every Swiss high street but also many great local ones, like the four I’ve highlighted here.

This is third article in my series on St Gallen; the first two covered the Abbey and the old town. For more information, visit St Gallen tourism.

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