Okay, guys. Raise your hand if you’re totally obsessed with Antiques Roadshow.
It’s an interesting paradox, isn’t it? A TV show that you would only expect your grandma to watch that is somehow utterly fascinating. I’m a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow and not ashamed at all to admit that I spent many Saturday afternoons binge-watching back in Texas.
So, where am I going with this? Well, what if I told you that there is an equally fascinating German show that has a very real, very special connection to the Eifel? Ah, now I’ve got your attention!
Allow Me to Introduce Eifel Antik
If you’re like me and love programs like Antiques Roadshow, and if you especially love spending hours combing through antique stores, this antique store in the heart of the Eifel is going to be your new favorite place.
Bares für Rares & Waldi
Okay, before we get into the store itself, you need a little bit of background information to understand why it’s so unique. Remember how I mentioned a German TV show similar to Antiques Roadshow? Well, the program I was referring to is called Bares für Rares, which basically translates to “Cash for Rarities.” Yeah, I know. It doesn’t have the same ring in English.
I love this show so much.
It works like this. People bring in things that they either bought at flea markets, found in their attics, or had passed down to them from family members. Sometimes they know a lot about the item, and sometimes they don’t (or they find out that what they thought they knew about the item is actually false). There are several tables set up, and at each table, there is an expert who unofficially appraises the item. They tell the owner about the background, production, materials, historical significance, and so on – just like on Antiques Roadshow. But this show has a twist.
Once they tell the person what they think they could get for it, the host, Horst Lichter, then offers them a “Händler” card. (Basically meaning a “Merchant” or “Dealer” card.) If they’re happy with the potential value that the expert quoted them, then they accept this card, and that allows them to move into a different room. Usually, they will show three different people talking with the experts before the cameras follow them into the other room.
I have never seen them not give someone a Händler card, but I’m assuming that happens and those people just don’t end up on TV.
For the people who get the Händler card, they then take their item into a closed room where several antique dealers are waiting. I think there’s usually five of them in the room. It’s usually the same group of antique dealers on every episode, but some of them do seem to rotate in and out from time to time.
They pass around the item and take turns looking at it while the owner stands out front and answers any questions they ask about it. Then somebody starts by making an offer, and the dealers go back and forth, bidding against each other, until somebody offers an amount that the others are not willing to beat. At this point, it’s up to the owner if they want to accept the offer and sell the item on the spot.
Sometimes the people get way more than the expert told them they might – sometimes they get less. And sometimes they choose not to sell. Most people, though, accept one of the offers and walk out with cash.
Okay, so who is Waldi?
Well, this is where that Eifel connection comes in. As I said, there are five or so antique dealers who sit in this room and bid on things. They are from all over the country, but there is one dealer from the Eifel, and his name is Waldi. If you watch the show, he is always the judge on the far left side of your TV screen.
I just adore him because he is so Eifel. You can hear it when he talks – I giggle sometimes because his accent is so similar to my husband’s at times. But you can also recognize his “Eifelness” in his word choice (for example, he’s usually the only one who says, “Tschüüüüüü” when people leave), and he comes across quite a bit more mumbly and casual than the other dealers. It’s like you can see a distinct “country boy” attitude in him, and I freaking love it.
Some of the other dealers are from Bavaria, and they’re usually the ones who sometimes tease him about the Eifel or make jokes about items that originally came from the Eifel or the Moselle area and how he needs to outbid them to bring them back home. So, they also take about the Eifel from time to time on the show.
I live in the Eifel. I love the Eifel. So, I love seeing the region referenced on TV!
Now, to the Antique Store
Not only is Waldi from the Eifel, but he has his own store here as well. It’s called Eifel Antik, and in it, you can find – and buy – many of the things you see him buying on the TV show. But, his store is actually pretty huge (multiple rooms on two floors), and so I’m assuming he also sells other things that he got elsewhere.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t allow anyone to take pictures of the things inside his store, but I can assure you, he has a lot of really neat stuff. He especially seems to like pipes, china sets, home decor, and oddities (like an old pinball machine, vintage artwork, etc.), but he also has furniture, books, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, clothing, and even a room dedicated to “sexy” artwork.
I know that some Americans are disappointed by a lot of the antique stores in Germany because they’re usually more shabby-chic than estate sale kind of stuff, but Waldi’s store is definitely more like what we would expect from an antique store.
And you know what the best part about going to his store is? Waldi is usually there on the weekends! He’s got a large dining table set up in one of the main rooms, and he just hangs out there with the customers, drinking coffee, eating cake, and shootin’ the breeze.
He is most definitely a local celebrity, and people just adore him.
I’ve been out to his store twice now. The first time, he wasn’t there because he was sick. But, the second time, he was there. I had my husband with me, and the whole way up there, I was like, “Do you think Waldi will be there this time?!” And when we got there and saw Waldi in the other room, I might have jumped up and down a tiny bit with excitement.
I was able to catch him alone for a second and told him how big of a fan I was of his and the show, and he was so nice. He gave me his autograph and then took a picture with me. He teased my husband about me sitting on his lap and hugging him, and I was like, “I’m Texan! I’m totally okay with hugging!”
That next week, I told my colleagues about it, and I guess I got pretty excited again just telling the story. One of them teasingly said, “You are so American right now!”
I have an empty picture frame on my desk that I keep forgetting to bring a picture for, and they all dared me to put my Waldi picture in there. As of right now, it’s still empty, but you never know!
Know Before You Go
Eifel Antik is open daily from 10am – 5pm. If you want to catch Waldi, most people have luck on the weekends. If you go on a sunny weekend, you can even sit outside and drink a cup of coffee. The area is really pretty, and his store is on the edge of town, so you have really nice views.
Kall, Germany 53925
Eifel Antik Facebook Page (where Waldi often uploads daily “Hello” videos to his fans)
Have you been to Eifel Antik yet? I would love to hear about your experience!