Disconnect Store Berlin first Anniversary 23-03-2020

One year ago today we opened our new physical shop in Finowstrasse 25 in Berlin-Friedrichshain. We teamed up with Yaya23 – just like in the old store at Ostkreuz, where we were located from 2012-2018 – and were joined by Simon Lejeune aka Haedre, which added a whole new dimension.

The location is in a former fast food pizzeria which apparently was spontaneously abandoned in all its greasy glory. It took several weeks to renovate the space, but in the end it looked good and we just about got it ready for the grand opening on March 23rd, 2019.

The decision to get involved in a new shop project was not an easy one for me. As much as I liked the previous shop and others before it, economically it had created an ongoing dilemma. After all, the retail operation – physical as well as online – was supposed to generate the funds for the publishing side of things, in my case the label Praxis and the magazine Datacide and their respective offshoots. And besides these, my focus should have been on writing articles and making tracks. Instead, the retail operation was gobbling up more and more of my time while the returns were not nearly justifying the efforts, at least not in economic terms.

On the other hand, I believed that the shop could have a social function that could not be emulated online. Indeed our Countdown to Gentrification series of events in the old store before we were kicked out seemed to confirm that there was still life in that approach.

Also in the months without a shop in late 2018 and early 2019 it became evident that the loss of income, as little as it was, was not being made up by increased online sales. Finally, with a crowdfunding campaign under way, we got a surge of support for the new shop project which seemed to show that there was a broad desire in our small scene to keep a physical meeting point/outlet afloat.

Nevertheless the first months were a bumpy ride. The money from the fundraiser was mostly used up by the renovation and after an initial rush of the first couple of weeks, sales plummeted for the next two months. Our in-store shows, however, proved popular with the audience, not so much with the neighbours … In the summer and autumn the situation seemed to stabilise a bit, fueling optimism that, perhaps, the concept could work out.

I cannot speak for the other two parties under the Disconnect umbrella, nor is it up to me to define their vision of a retail shop and gallery. I can only speak for the Praxis section of it. This vision has been formed from experiences of radical shops selling music and/or literature, both as someone who was influenced by and involved in such projects for decades. Of all places, Berlin would surely be the city where a place combining underground culture and radical politics could be sustainably run, but different factors have put this into question – factors that will need more space to be analysed.

I wish I could be more up-beat for our first anniversary. Instead, the current Corona lockdown forced us to close the physical shop for the time being. At the time of writing it is completely unclear how long this lockdown will continue and what consequences the almost certain economic depression will have on countercultural projects such as ours. If we survive, it will depend on the support of a range of independent, undogmatic, non-aligned, critical, anti-authoritarian, experimental, radical forces.

Our online shop remains open:
Digital files are available here:
Datacide Magazine is online here:
Disconnect Store Berlin blog:

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