Five years ago, Mischa Krewer and Oliver Baumgart opened the doors of their sneaker store 43einhalb in 65k Hessian town Fulda, following the classic “escape your office job” mantra and with the idea in mind to rather earn their money with things they love and go snowboarding on Mondays. What they didn’t dream of is how the small boutique store turned into an internationally recognized sneaker mecca, shipping orders far beyond the German border. Last weekend marked the opening of 43einhalb’s second, slightly more metropolitan location in Frankfurt/Main, in a story-loaded historic building. Looks like things are going quite well for the boys – except they can never find the time for free boarding Mondays.
Inside the new Frankfurt store
© 43einhalb
Inside the new Frankfurt store

How did you end up opening the 43einhalb store in Fulda in the first place, what’s the story behind?
We’ve always been fascinated by sneakers and started blogging about it in 2004. At that time, our blog sneakerized.com was the first blog written in German. We wrote about sneakers every day, every lunch break, in every after-work hour and after some years, this little idea of opening an own store came up. It’s the typical idea to earn your money with the stuff you love.
Some time went by to get the courage of taking the next step, but as Mischa walked by the store location one day and saw a sticker „for rent“, we decided to go for it.

43einhalb is a well-recognized sneaker mecca today, operating a highly successful web shop and having just opened its second location in Frankfurt/Main. When was the turning point for you where you thought: Okay, this is really going somewhere?
Well, there hasn’t been a real turning point. We never expected anything of this 43einhalb thing. We thought: ok, let’s have a try. It would be great if it works and if not, we will have to get a job again. Every particular step in the last five years showed us that it’s going somewhere, but we are conscious that you can never be sure the direction will stay the same.

What were the biggest obstacles you came across in the past five years running the store?
We prefer the phrase challenges… There is definitely a challenge for which we haven’t found a solution yet. When we started 43einhalb, we didn’t open the store on Mondays in winter, because we planned to go snowboarding in the afternoon. Since we only have to drive 20 minutes from Fulda to get to the next ski lift, this sounded like a great option. In the end, there has not been a single Monday in the last five years, where we had the time to actually go snowboarding – and this definitely is a thing we have to work on.

Clean white cubic structures mark the interior of the new sneaker store
© 43einhalb
Clean white cubic structures mark the interior of the new sneaker store

Is it hard to get the latest limited releases when being based in small town such as Fulda?
Fulda is not the city to be seen as a focus city in global brand presentations and therefore we never expected to get the hottest stuff on earth. We always tried to do a good job and after five years, we can definitely say that we got the maximum of limited styles you can get in Fulda.

What do you regard as your specialty, how does 43einhalb differ from other sneaker stores?
We started 43einhalb with the background of an online magazine/blog and the mission to tell the story behind the sneakers we sell. This is what has always been fascinating us in the years before. Besides an incredible knowhow about bread and sausage products from our local region, we would therefore see the storytelling-expertise as our main specialty.

When placing a sneaker on the scan box, the in-store displays show shoe specific content
© 43einhalb
When placing a sneaker on the scan box, the in-store displays show shoe specific content

What’s the craziest thing you ever experienced a customer doing in order to get a certain pair of (limited) sneakers?
Luckily, we convinced a customer not to do the craziest thing ever to get a limited pair. Don’t be cross with us because we can’t go further into detail.

Why did you pick Frankfurt as the home of your second store?
When you grow up in Fulda, you inescapably get a special relation to Frankfurt as the nearest metropolis. You mostly go there for shopping and working, or just to experience all the stuff you can´t do in your hometown. So regarding our personal preference, there has never been an alternative for a second home of 43einhalb.

The Nitribit Haus is a history-loaded building. Tell us about your new location!
As we called the number on the shop-door to request the renting details, we had no idea of the story and had never heard the name Nitribit before. Now imagine, what such a hint can imply for someone that loves the stories behind things as much as we do. It took us about 30 seconds to fall in love with Rosemarie and that’s exactly the reason why we placed some of her most significant pictures in our store. Rosemarie Nitbribit was Frankfurt’s most famous noble prostitute, living in the apartment on the 4th floor above our store. She was killed in her flat in 1957, but the police never clarified the murder. Proofs disappeared, there was no witness and her story came up to one of Germany’s most famous murder mysteries, including two film versions, a play, novels and a sneaker store.

43einhalb created a small apparel collection with local heroes for the Frankfurt opening
© 43einhalb
43einhalb created a small apparel collection with local heroes for the Frankfurt opening

How are you addressing the female sneaker clientele in your store(s)?
We only have very good looking and extremely charming boys working in our stores. Jokes apart, we never made a difference between women and men and we don’t want to make a difference in future. We try to tell the stories behind our products, which sometimes are stories regarding just female or simply male interests. But usually we aim to deliver our stories in an interesting way that is not specifying between genders.

You are a supporter of smaller sneaker brands as well. Which ones are the most interesting “underdogs” right now?
It’s very nice to see some „underdogs“ right now, because we were really lacking especially those guys in the last years. One of our favorite is the brand OHW?, combining sneaker technology with casual looks. It’s not the kind of stuff you expect in a sneaker store, but besides great products, their story is really worth telling.

Current sneaker silhouettes at 43einhalb
© 43einhalb
Current sneaker silhouettes at 43einhalb

What’s been your ultimate bestselling sneaker silhouette over the years?
It’s definitely the Opel Motor Sports OMS-1 Hi. Four years ago, we found a dude who had an impressive deadstock of original Opel sneakers from the great times of Opel’s motorsport history. After the first sales and an unbelievable response, we decided to buy the whole stock. It took us about two years to sell it, but we’re very proud that we've been a part of the Opel sneaker myth.

Which sneaker silhouette/brand do you see going strong for the upcoming fall/winter?
All kinds of tech/lightweight running silhouettes will be going strong in the next months, as well as strong boot inspired sneaker styles for the winter… hoping that there will be a winter this year.

What’s your personal favorite pair of sneakers?
Imagine you had 5 kids (or 500)…could you point out your personal favorite?

The Nitribit house, stage for one of Germany’s most famous murder mysteries, is now the home of the second 43einhalb store
© 43einhalb
The Nitribit house, stage for one of Germany’s most famous murder mysteries, is now the home of the second 43einhalb store


43einhalb's new Frankfurt location: