On the first floor of a nondescript 1,000 sq metre industrial unit in Berlin’s Steglitz district, four workers are cautiously placing pregnant queen ants into test tubes in order to dispatch them across Europe. This is Antstore, the world’s first specialist ant shop, a business with around two dozen employees, a glass-cutting workshop, plastic and plaster modelling studios and a full-time social media manager. It is just one of the surprisingly large number of shops in Berlin that sell only one thing, be it crawly insects, salty sweets, sticky tape or miniature string instruments. With online retail sales changing the face of high streets in cities around the world, many wonder if this hyper-specialisation could be more than an accidental side effect of the German capital’s tumultuous history, and also a blueprint for the high street of the future. Martin Sebesta started Antstore in 2003, frustrated that his city’s pet shops lacked either the expertise or … [Read more...] about Are the hyper-specialist shops of Berlin the future of retail?
Tripartite nature of man
The Great Chip Shortage In 2019, older bigots and veteran xenophobes still recalled with pride the successful campaign Boston and the area of Lincolnshire around it waged in the 1960s against the rodent coypus, foreigners from somewhere foreign with tomato-red teeth, who had been introduced to Britain in the 1920s as a fur crop called nutria. Once these shy, intelligent South American beasts got wind of their fate, they began to escape from the 50 or so “farms” that had imported them, head for wetlands, breed prolifically, guzzle crops (wheat, beetroot, turnip) and destabilise fen dykes by burrowing into their banks. The situation was later exacerbated by nutria fur falling out of fashion and the farms failing, so releasing their remaining charges. Bounty hunters, specially devised traps, pistols and the devastatingly cold winter of 1962-63 killed much of the population, doomily estimated at about 200,000 but probably little more than half that number. Today in 2029, even … [Read more...] about Militias, chaos and starvation: Britain 10 years after Brexit