Photo by Diane S.W. Lee
GermanDeli sells more than just imported European products from places like Germany, Switzerland and Holland — it sells memories.
“Military brats who were stationed in Germany will walk into our store looking for products that they grew up with like gummi bears, Fanta and Hanutas,” said Gina Green, GermanDeli’s co-founder. “Some of them are crying, some of them are laughing and some of them are squealing.”
Green said customers will often share stories of their experiences eating a variety of products such as Ritter Sport chocolates. For more than a decade, GermanDeli has become a destination online and at its store in Colleyville. Customers have driven from as far as New York.
“Even though they can order online, they love the idea that they can speak German, pick things up and look at things,” said Inga Bowyer, GermanDeli’s co-founder. “Some people make visiting us part of their vacation.”
Mansfield resident Gaby Bevel has been visiting GermanDeli since 2002 because it reminds her of her home in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a town in southern Germany. One afternoon, her shopping cart included deBron sugar-free wine gums from Holland and Tchibo exclusive decaffeinated coffee from Germany.
Sisters Gina Green and Igna Bowyer and her husband Jim Bowyer incorporated GermanDeli in November 1998. They originally planned to open a German sandwich shop until Jim Bowyer persuaded the sisters to sell German products online.
Igna Bowyer was born in Germany, and Green was born in Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts. They wanted to relive memories of eating German foods, but struggled to find ingredients in Texas in the 1990s.
GermanDeli.com went live in March 1999. They leased a warehouse on Kimball Avenue to store products. In September 2005, they moved to a bigger warehouse on Market Loop. In September 2008, they moved the outlet store out of the warehouse into a retail store in Colleyville.
They started with 40 products and now offer more than 5,000. Now they are looking to expand the warehouse, and open a sit-down delicatessen inside the store sometime in September with future plans to open stores across the U.S. Every day, customers share memories with products.
“People will write to us and say, ‘I just got your package and my mom has cancer. It was very hard for her to find anything that she liked to eat, but when your package came in she opened up bags and she started eating, and I just want you to know that what a difference you’ve made,’” Inga Bowyer said. “It’s very cool.”
GermanDeli, 5100 Hwy. 121, Colleyville, 817-354-8101, www.germandeli.com