By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff
While dirndls and lederhosen may be expensive, the staff at the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest store, otherwise known as Hans Haus, can outfit customers for the party at any price, says Heidi Wilson, retail wholesale operations manager.
The staff in the castle on Benton Street may be walking around in full costume, but there are lots of cheaper options that can still help get festival goers into the spirit.
In fact, the most popular items in the store are among the least expensive — hats, feathers and pins.
“It’s different every year, but hats, feathers and pins are the ones that sell the most,” said Wilson, who changes up the stock every two years or so, depending on what’s selling and what’s not.
When it comes to hats and feathers, some variation of the colours green, yellow, black and red are always popular, thanks to the German flag. However, there have been some years where pink hats have flown off the shelves.
But the must-have item for every reveller is the logo pin.
“I run out of it every year. No matter how many I order I always run out of it,” Wilson said.
And while the store is best known for its Oktoberfest merchandise, it’s open all year round.
“We’re pretty steady with tourists. We’ve got the hotels downtown and it’s word of mouth. A lot of people know we sell the Canadianna,” she said.
“We’ve heard that we have the largest selection of Kitchener-Waterloo items.”
Still, while there are sales all year round, October is the busy season, and it takes an extra 20 to 25 retail seasonal staff all dressed up in their Oktoberfest finery to cope with the influx, not to mention months and months of planning.
“I’m already thinking of next year. The earlier the better,” said Wilson, adding they start seriously gearing up for the festival after returning from Christmas holidays.
Revellers don’t actually have to visit the downtown store to get geared up for the festival, though. Tents are set up outside with overflow merchandise and sale items, and items are usually taken to be sold at the different halls in the city.
But the “headquarters with a shopping twist” is also where people can go to buy tickets to events, as well as drop off entries for the different Oktoberfest contests. They are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the festival, but almost never close their door on time, according to Wilson.
“People will be calling us from the highway saying, ‘I’m coming to town to get my tickets, don’t close.’ We wait for those people,” she said.
If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, though, you may be out of luck. Many events sell out well in advance of the festival kick-off.
For more information about events and ticket availability visit www.oktoberfest.ca.
“Everybody has got to come down and get suited for Oktoberfest,” Wilson said. “Get your logo pin.”