Germans appreciate Latvian food: Sandra's store and story

At the beginning of May, a special store opened its doors in Bavaria, Germany. It is the only shop in Germany that sells exclusively Latvian-produced groceries. The owner, Sandra Balcere, spoke to LSM.lv on May 24 about her business.

"You have to try, otherwise you won't know whether you'll succeed," said Sandra. Her family are the only Latvians in the small Bavarian town of Bad Tölz. Opening the shop was a sense of mission - to introduce Germans to Latvian tastes. "I told myself that there would be all the best from Latvia in my shop!" 

The delicious, high-quality offer has already been appreciated by local Germans and by Latvians near and far. "The customers come and ask -  oh, what's that on your shelf? Something new? Tell me!" 

Sandra has no experience or higher education in business. She thought it couldn't be all that difficult, with shops and cafes opening all around. It was only when the business had been registered and the space arranged when she stopped for a moment and thought - what am I doing now? How will I deal with this? However, these hesitant moments came few and far between.

"I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen? Loss of money? Oh, come on! I've seen worse than that," says Sandra. "The more your life throws at you, the tougher you get."

Sandra has done everything with her own resources and willpower, apart from the help from her mother and little daughter. Sandra's mother Vija has just turned seventy but will not sit still; she is the main IT expert, promoting the business online. Ten-year-old Selena, on the other hand, is always behind the counter, on duty to taste everything.

"We both are very fond of natural candy, made from fruit and berries with no additives," said Sandra. "I want the food to be  as natural as possible, with real distinctive flavor."

Sandra's store offers a broad range of foods - honey, seveal types of bread, smoked fish and meats, cheese, candy, peas, preserved vegetables and more.

Locals have been very keen to try something new, even longing to taste something they are unaccustomed to. "They come and ask what this or that tastes like, and they take my advice on cooking and pairing. The Germans are very fond of smoked fish, even brokers who helped me sort out the premises came and asked - where's the salmon? They also love our bread, Germans eat a lot of bread and appreciate it."

The news have spread quickly, many ask for new products. Sandra is thinking to expand the offer with non-food items, such as jewelry and crafts, as well as to open an online store. "There are many creative Latvians, and they must be noticed and appreciated outside Latvia!" says Sandra.

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