Selfmade Experts: Soda on how to open a boutique magazine shop

©Julia Zierer

Sebastian Steinacker and Isabell Hummel

They became self made experts by “accident.” Sebastian studied fashion design in London at Central Saint Martins College and, naturally, within the course of this study he came across many, many books and magazines. When he came back to Munich after four years, it immediately became clear to him that the variety of publications that he had become used to simply wasn’t there. With his former partner he opened a shop in 2004 in Munich’s Gärtnerplatz. And it quickly became clear that they weren’t the only ones looking for a more diverse selection of international magazines.

After three years they moved. And almost exactly a year ago he opened a store here in Berlin, together with Isabell, who was part of the story from the beginning of this new chapter. She studied fashion journalism and previously worked in a concept store across from Munich’s soda books. The concept and the selection are, in principle, the same, only that each store supplements their assortment with locally relevant media.

For years Sebastian has seen himself as a kind of distributor of tools for designers. In Munich they hardly had any customers that didn’t work in the field of visual design. Of course, in Berlin there was already a lot being offered, and it was good. Mark Kiessling and Jessica Reitz are doing an amazing job at doyoureadme?! But based on the size of the city, what was being offered was still much too small.  

Creating a presentation and selection that was as easy as possible to browse was of particular concern for Sebastian. A massive range of publications that was wrapped, stacked, or squeezed onto narrow shelves always bothered him. Many in the industry are amazed by the fact that for 12 years we’ve carried on with a fully frontal presentation.

I always realize that we were lucky to start at a time when the Internet was still relatively young. We realize the advantage of the presence online of different media most by the increasingly diverse selection and customer’s requests. That fact that perhaps some prefer to just consume their choices digitally, doesn’t really matter to me. And we don’t really notice anything there. The customers that want print and who will always love print are there. And will remain faithful to us. Even if we’re not supposed to and think that all magazine are equally fantastic: At the moment we’ve picked out two favorites, they are Tapas and Smith Journal.

Translation: Alicia Reuter
Zsuzsanna Toth

Born in Budapest and raised in Vienna writer and producer Zsuzsanna Toth settled down in Berlin in 2009. Since her teenage years she has been a collector of magazines and is constantly busy inhaling new publications - both print and digital. After her fashion studies she worked as the editorial and managing director of I Love You Magazine and Freunde von Freunden. Today she focuses her freelance work on the intersection of editorial consulting and content production.