German SF store closes after 48 years in Noe Valley

After nearly five decades of selling Ritter Sport bars and lingonberry jam in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, Lehr’s German Specialties is closing its one-of-a-kind shop on Church Street. A sign recently posted on the door announced the closure and thanked the neighborhood for its loyalty and patronage.

Owner Brigitte Lehr told SFGATE she plans to stay open until the last merchandise is sold. “What are you going to do?” said Lehr. “After 48 years, we have to end it.”

When the store opened in 1963, it was part of a cluster of shops on Church Street – remember Speckmann’s? – which was aimed at German and Irish families living in the area, the Noe Valley Voice reported.

The old-world atmosphere emporium has a bit of everything – all in German – including birthday cards that read “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”, Nivea beauty products, copies of the magazine of German celebrities Neue Welt and news magazine Bunte and handmade wooden figures. But the real draw is the food items: Haribo gummies, sauerkraut, fresh liver sausage, Black Forest cake mix, egg noodles for spaetzle and fresh rye bread on Saturdays.

Myron Helmer lives across the street and has been stopping regularly at Lehr’s for potato snacks and cookies for 28 years. “I will miss this store and the company of the people who work there,” said Helmer, who first moved to San Francisco in 1965.

Ingrid, who declined to share her last name with SFGATE, is one such person. Originally from Hamburg, she moved to San Francisco in 1959 and has worked there for 18 years. She used to ask customers, “How can I help you?” Now she asks, “Do you want to buy the store?”

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