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German imports to be featured at shows

July 10, 1998

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

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German ImportsBy SHEILA HOTCHKIN / Staff Writer

Bavarian-born Siegfried Schletterer grew up in a German orphanage, leaving at 15 to take a job and an apartment. He left for the United States at 25, bringing just two suitcases with him.

The Hagerstown resident now owns two businesses.

"I don't let anyone else create my dreams," he said. "They always create it too small."

Schletterer's latest venture, Bavaria International, combines a business with an attempt to bring a little of his culture to his community. In shows around the area, he plans to market quality German goods, including everything from steins to glasswork to stuffed animals.

The first show will be July 17, 18 and 19 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Hagerstown's Hampton Inn.

The idea came to Schletterer when he saw the reaction he received from giving gifts from his native country to friends. He said they were in love with the culture.

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He has spent the past three years collecting the best German goods he could find, determined not to sell the cheaper souvenirs he said tourists are often tricked into taking home. His suppliers do not deal in mass production, he said.

His sister and brother-in-law, who live in Germany, have helped him search for his merchandise.

Within his collection, Schletterer's favorites are the steins, which he says come from a country where presentation is everything.

"You drink with your eyes," he said. "It's a different drinking culture."

Schletterer said there's a lot to know about creating steins, an art which involves several stages

"I want to be the stein kaiser of the United States," he joked.

He will also sell glass art, porcelain, pewter, ornaments and stuffed animals called Tiere mit Herz, which translates to "Animals with Heart."

Schletterer's goal is to make the fledgling business successful enough that he can eventually have a store.

"I don't have to have one store," Schletterer said. "I can have maybe five. I don't want to limit myself."

And if the venture does not succeed?

"My philosophy is if it doesn't go, I have Christmas presents for the next 30 years," he said, shrugging.

Schletterer also owns Siegfried's Pest Control Inc."Somehow, it clashes. I don't know how to get around that," he said.

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