Saftladen: When a business is poorly run, Germans like to say it's a "juice shop"

Literally: “juice shop” / meaning: a poorly run business

“What kind of Saftladen is this place?” That’s something you will hear Germans shout when they have been sitting for half an hour in a restaurant without anyone taking their order. Oddly enough, a business does not need to be a shop nor particularly “juicy” in order to be called that way. 

For a German, a Saftladen can be a car repair service, a telephone company, a hair salon… or, not uncommonly, their own employer. It just refers to any kind of business that seems poorly organized, overpriced, dishonest, or unpleasant in any other way. The first linguistic evidence of the expression can be traced back to the the 19th century in the Berlin area as a joking term for a pharmacy. At the beginning of the 20th century, people used it to refer to liquor stores, distilleries, beer bars, speakeasies—and soon, for anything with a kind of dubious reputation.

Yes, the term has a distinctively negative feel to it. But nevertheless, some vendors of freshly squeezed juices use the expression today in a semi-ironic way for their own marketing. These guys are taking positive reframing to the next level.



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