The Business Etiquette of the Shoe Shine
In any major US metropolis, and many cities in Asia and around the world, paying for someone to clean your boots (While you wear them), is normal. On the corners of these business districts, you often see someone kneeling at the feet of a man or woman in a suit and polishing their shoes. It’s a service, and the person who is literally stooping to do so, is paid for it. However, in many Western European countries like France or Germany the very sight is degrading.
In Germany: A Social Taboo
There are many shoe repair shops in Berlin, but few shoe shine establishments. The reason is that according to Germans, in German culture shoe polishing is done by the owner of the shoes. Children are taught to perform this task themselves the same way they are taught to keep their bedrooms clean. A man who does not know how to polish his shoes does not know how to take care of his things. None of them are outdoor shoe-shine stands, like the ones you see in New York City, for example. The reason for this is that in the German army, polishing the leather boots of others is a task given as punishment. To ask someone else to polish your shoes, while you wear them, in public – is a triply embarrassing insult.
What can a foreigner do?
Since engaging in the practice is not likely to impress your European colleagues, if you are extending your stay in Berlin for business, it is wise to purchase a shoe shine kit – of which a wide variety are available. Visit one of Berlin’s local shoe repair shops for recommendations.
But what to do if you have never shined your own shoes and they’re say, Jimmy Choo 4-inch heels or Versace pumps – not classic leather boots? Plus, if you’re travelling solely for business, you may have no time to learn. A hotel or shoe store would ask you to make a purchase before you use the shoe-shine service….
Fear Not! You can visit this shop for a “Classic Shoe Shine”
You are saved from shoddy shoes by the “Classic Shoe Shine” full service shop on the 1st floor of Berlin’s famous KaDeWe department store. Just make certain that you don’t let your secret slip – at least during first impressions at the meeting.
Classic Shoe Shine
Main Location: The KaDeWe Department Store (Kaufhaus des Westens)
Tauentzienstraße 21-24, 10789 Berlin
Shoe Shine “Outlets”: Munich Airport, 07:00-21:00 in Terminal 2