Bonn. It’s news that will not only be hard for children to digest: The Puppenkönig toy store will be closing its doors forever. This week, employees were informed about the plans to close the store, which has a long tradition in Bonn.
Just a few weeks ago, children and grown-ups alike pressed their noses flat against the store window and admired the model railway circling through the winter landscape. It was the 93rd time that the employees of Puppenkönig had set up the toy railway set in the store window, for the period of time leading up to Christmas. And it was the last time. The toy store, situated on Gangolfstraße in Bonn city center is expected to close in November of this year. Founded in Cologne in 1873, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary in Bonn in 2013.
When asked about the reason for the closure, the owner Alfred Westenhöfer was a bit hesitant. He explained to the GA that he does not want to say anything about it at present. He only confirmed the closure of the toy store at the end of the year. He had informed his employees about it on Tuesday. When asked about the future plans for his property - it is a prestigious building built in 1910 with six floors and round arches on the ground floor - Westenhöfer remained silent.
Nor did he want to answer the question about the number of employees affected, some of whom have been employed by Puppenkönig for several decades. In a GA report on the store's 100th birthday in Bonn, the businessman spoke of 30 employees. "That was five years ago. Of course, a lot has changed," said Westenhöfer on Wednesday.
In the course of the anniversary celebration, he and his wife Mechthild had announced that their daughter was preparing to lead the toy business into the third generation. In a conversation with GA, Westenhöfer had also complained about the increasing internet trade and the large discount toy stores, which made it increasingly difficult for specialist shops to survive. But having a piece of real estate was an advantage.
The building housing the toy store on Gangolfstraße was hardly damaged during the war - and had become a trademark of the toy shop. There is hardly a child from Bonn and the region who doesn't enjoy a toy from Puppenkönig on their birthday or at Christmas. But it is also popular with adults, there is just about everything for hobbyists that the heart desires. Legendary were the men's game evenings initiated by Westenhöfer, which in recent years were always fully booked.
With the closing of Puppenkönig, it will have been one of the longest-established family-run businesses in the city. Carthaus on Remigiusstrasse recently made headlines when it closed its specialist shop for paper, office supplies and stationery after 160 years. The media enterprise Carthaus now concentrates on publishing telephone and address books, and consulting in on-line marketing among other things. In the meantime, the optician chain Fielmann has moved into the former Carthaus stationary store.
Puppenkönig was founded by P.H. Virnich in Cologne in 1873 as the "Puppenkönig Toy House". The branch in Bonn was opened in 1913. Since 1947 the store has been located at Gangolfstraße 8 - 10. The father of the current owner, Alfred Fritz Westenhöfer, was initially employed by the company as an accountant, becoming the sole owner in 1967.
Orig.text: Philipp Königs, Lisa Inhoffen