The Euro Scene: Munich
What we learned from visiting these four outdoor specialists
In Munich you don’t have to venture far to find the great outdoors. A cluster of top-notch sports shops dot the Old Town district of the city, a hugely popular pedestrian shopping destination centered by Munich’s historic clock tower in the area known as Marienplatz. The four brick and mortar havens we visited are all located within earshot of the chimes from the famous glockenspiel clock, and all share similarities in product categories and brand selection, yet each store is unique in personality and presentation. Here are takeaways from our recent adventures scouting Munich’s outdoor sports retail scene.
Store visit: Friday, late afternoon.
First impression: Wowed by the size of the store, its extensive travel department and sophisticated approach to merchandising outdoor sports. Zen-like atmosphere offers welcome relief from Munich’s urban bustle.
Standout features: Boutique shops within the store by Arc’teryx, Icebreaker, Fjällräven and Hestra. Rain chamber located in outerwear department, climbing wall that extends multiple flights, and paddle pool on main level (though closed for winter season.) A travel agent can help with bookings, and vaccinations for destination travel are also available on site. The more affordably priced house brand, Frilufts, has especially good looking midlayer fleece styles.
Highlights: The store’s cozy café is a great spot to leisurely browse travel guides and maps. The fabulous footwear department includes a shoe wall constructed with layers of raw materials such as stones, wood chips and chunks of glass.
Specifics: 4 floors, more than 1000 different brands offered. Globetrotter Ausrüstung has been providing curated clothing and equipment for outdoor activities for 40-plus years.
Store visit: Saturday, after lunch.
First impression: Let’s have fun and hang out. Lively and upbeat, visitors stroll the store sampling camp food and getting a workout on a motorized exercise bike in the adidas mini pop up area of the Athleisure section.
Standout features: Extensive ski department serves as a family hub for trying on ski boots and apparel. A beautiful selection of upscale outerwear styles from Bogner and Kjus. We get a smile and thumbs up from the sales associate at the ski waxing station when we take his photo. A huge assortment of daypacks from Fjällräven creates a rainbow of color in the pack department
Highlight: A woman dressed in traditional German garb sells bread directly across from high-tech trekking gear. This juxtaposition between past and present defines Munich.
Specifics: Established in 1913, this family business was opened by 30-year old mountaineer August Schuster, who employed climber extraordinaire Hermann Buhl, the first man, in 1953, to summit Nanga Parbat, one of the highest most difficult Himalayan mountains.
Store visit: Tuesday, early evening.
First impression: Bright, cheerful and comfortable. It’s lovely to shop in a clean, well-organized setting. It is an all-purpose type sports outlet: Authentic in nature, and accessible to a wide customer base with an REI kind of appeal, but with broader based offering than strictly outdoor.
Standout features: Nicely merchandised snowsports apparel selection with brands including Roxy, Spyder, Ortovox, Element, Picture, and Protest, along with outerwear by Didriksos and a large selection of Falke ski socks. Skis, helmets and other hardgoods are also well represented.
Highlight: The retail visit kicks off our first time in the Old Town area of Munich. Entering the store as the clock tower chimes in the background, the store captures the spirit of the city perfectly.
Specifics: SportScheck’s move into this new location six years ago is viewed as being a big improvement, adding to the store’s popularity.
Store visit: Thursday, almost closing time at 8pm.
First impression: Something for everyone. Displays ranged from swim to ski and badminton to boots. Mainstream approach along with sparks of inspiration.
Standout features: An attention-getting department devoted to “RadSport,” a category merchandised for hard-core cycling in a cold weather context. Gore Bike wear, Vaude, Manner and Gonso apparel brands offer insulated outerwear, shell jackets and “bike underwear,” along with Deuter and Vaude packs. And sustainability gets a shout out in the front of the store with a display focused on the issue of ocean plastics and accessory brand P.A.C. merchandise.
Highlights: The newest collections from Adidas, Nike, Puma and Asics. A strong athletic presence held steady even as the winter snowsports selling season was underway. Services run the gamut. Patrons can have fitness equipment installed and their ice skates sharpened. Treadmill analysis is available for runners and hikers can have backpacks measured to fit properly.
Specifics: Karstadt Sports has 34 locations in Germany and is part of the Signa Sports Group, a leading retail group and multi-channel platform for sporting goods in Germany.