German Town’s Craftspeople Fight Chinese Imports
The Christmas market in the eastern German town of Seiffen has become a globalization battleground as local craftspeople try to protect traditional, handmade decorations from a store selling cheaper Asian imports.
Christmas angels and nativity figures may not be the first items that come to Germans’ minds when they think of globalization, but the small wooden figures that have been handmade in the Erz Mountains of eastern Germany for hundreds of years are being threatened by cheap imports from Asia, according to local business owners.
Seiffen’s businesses have come to rely on visitors to its Christmas market, and the town is filled with stores selling Christmas angels, lights, nutcrackers and tree ornaments nearly all of which are made by hand in local workshops.
“We have thousands of visitors every day,” said Dieter Uhlmann, the director of the Erz Mountains Handicraft and Toy Manufactures Association. “On the weekends up to 30,000 people come in almost 200 buses. The town can barely handle it, but on the other hand it’s nice so many people are interested in the Erz Mountains’ folk art and that they come right to Seiffen to see it.”
However, locals say that even with all the visitors, there is no more room for Johannes Schulte to sell his goods. Schulte employed 300 workers in China to manufacture the wooden figurines, which he sells for about half the price of the handmade versions.