Usually around this time of year, Hermann Werner, 56, of Forest Park, is preparing to set up shop as a vendor at Christkindlmarket in Chicago, the German-style outdoor holiday market that materializes in Downtown Chicago’s Daley Plaza each year, from late November through late December.
Werner’s Sweet Castle has been a popular site at Christkindlmarket for two decades, with products like Pfeffernüsse and Stollen, perennial favorites with customers.
This year, however, due to the pandemic, German American Events, the outdoor market’s organizer and a branch of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, has decided to forego the physical market, which it holds at various sites in Chicago and Milwaukee, and instead will host a virtual market from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.
The cancellation prompted Werner to strike out on his own. Starting Oct. 30, he is selling his Sweet Castle products, many of which are imported directly from his native Germany, inside of a holiday pop-up store that he constructed in his warehouse at 2714 S. 9th Ave. in Broadview, where he stores his inventory.
Werner, who lives in Forest Park, said the pop-up store will be a much larger replica of the space he typically sets up in Daley Plaza each year. The shelving will feature the products that Werner has become known for through his affiliation with Christkindlmarket, particularly his Hermann the German brand offerings like gingerbread spice candy, Bavarian fruit, popcorn and roasted nuts.
“When we found out the physical market was canceled, we asked the village if we can have temporary store holiday hours because we have so much space,” Werner said. “Hopefully, we can still have some business.”
Werner even constructed his ubiquitous wooden hut at the entrance of the warehouse, where customers will wait in socially distanced lines to get into the pop-up shop. On Wednesday afternoon, as Werner and his team were preparing the warehouse to open, the Christmas spirit had already pervaded the space.
In a sense, Werner’s Broadview pop-shop has a purpose similar to Christkindlmarket, which itself is a reproduction of the 16th-century Christkindlesmarket in Nuremberg, Germany, according to the market’s website. This year, Werner will get to reproduce the spirit of Nuremberg in Broadview.
The Sweet Castle pop-up store opened on Oct. 30 and will run through Dec. 31. The hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. through 9 p.m., Friday through Sunday.