Can a masterpiece of traditional folk art also appear as a highly stylized
modern crèche, a tree decoration or a nutcracker gift? For an answer, a
shopper need only stop at Gallery Wagner in Kindsbach village between Landstuhl and Kaiserslautern.
Often called the “Christmas Lady,” Wilfriede Wagner recently scoured trade conventions and product shows to find the newest, yet traditional items for her customers. Then she went with knowledge of her American customers to select the best, most innovative Erzgeberge (Erz Mountain) pieces that few had seen, but which hold to grand traditions of German art.
Imagine tiny wooden pyramids spinning on the tree as decorations. Or pine garlands festooned with lighted stars twinkling around doors or hanging on the tree. And, classic lace tree decorations with tiny bells suspended in the middle sitting on the Christmas dinner table.
“For some reason, this year the Americans are buying more Advent articles than Christmas pieces,” Wagner said. “I was surprised because not so many Americans celebrate Advent or know much about these traditions. Maybe just being in Germany and celebrating in the traditional German way attracts them while they live here. So, I gathered more of these ‘old’ things, which are actually quite new to this part of Germany and new to the Americans.”
The beauty of holiday shopping at Gallery Wagner, other than the sheer joy of standing in the midst of German folk art, comes from Wagner’s special services. For instance, shoppers don’t fight crowds in the cozy shop and can park for free behind the store.
Every buyer feels free to compare, mull over and handle the merchandise without pressure to buy and scurry away.
Wagner accepts VAT forms, takes most credit cards and allows lay-away — all at prices that average 15 to 25 percent less than the big-name dealers at the base exchange and post exchange outlets or in mock Christmas villages.
Wagner guarantees every piece as an authentic German masterpiece crafted by hand in the Erz Mountains of Southern Saxony.
She also gift wraps and lovingly packs each purchase so it arrives in perfect condition. Recently, after an Air Force major and his wife had finished their purchasing, they watched in awe as the Christmas Lady carefully packed their gifts.
Humming softly, Wagner carefully wrapped and placed each piece into a box as if dressing her beloved children for the Christmas pageant.
It’s what the “Christmas Lady” of Kindsbach does — good, old-fashioned service to new and old customers.