Germans have entered that great bastion of American consumption known as the King of Prussia Mall.
The mall's retail roster will grow by eight retailers this month alone, and prominent among them is Kneipp, a 125-year-old German company that made its North American debut Thursday. The brand is known for herbal and natural bath and beauty products.
"For us, this is a wonderful event," said company CEO Christoph Hirschmann, who flew in from Germany on Wednesday night to unveil its 1,065-square-foot space in the mall's newest wing.
He called to mind the song "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra. "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere," he said with a grin. "We're here."
"Opening our first shop in the U.S. is a very important pillar of our international expansion strategy, and we selected King of Prussia Mall on purpose."
Europe up to now had been Kneipp's stronghold. It leads its sector in luxury skin-care products in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and France, among others.
The company was founded in 1891 by Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest said to have cured himself of tuberculosis by bathing in natural river water. Kneipp - pronounced Kin-ipe - became a local celebrity whom thousands of people would visit, purportedly to be cured. He later teamed up with a pharmacist who used only natural plant essences and pure ingredients, formulas that would become Kneipp's signature products.
"We not only have a story, but a real philosophy based on five pillars: water, plants, exercise, nutrition, and balance," Hirschmann said. "They all work together in harmony."
King of Prussia became one vast mall in August, connecting the old Plaza and the Court and retiring those names.
New retailers have been streaming in. Just this month the openings include:
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, the eco-friendly, American-made furniture company, launching its first Pennsylvania location within the new expansion wing.
Bottega Veneta, an Italian-born luxury brand specializing in handcrafted leather accessories.
Lolli & Pops, the candy store offering a full suite of international treats, from Japanese sodas to Spanish sour belts, opening its second Pennsylvania location.
Hermés, the Parisian luxury brand known for its handbags.
Within the last two weeks, King of Prussia Mall has also welcomed Allen Edmonds, specializing in handcrafted men's footwear; Tempur-Pedic; and Nic+Zoe, a Boston-based leader in women's knitwear.
On Aug. 19 the mall debuted a 155,000-square-foot expansion, creating a wing for 50 new retailers and restaurants, most of them luxury brands.
The new stores then included Altar'd State, Calligaris, Cartier, CH Carolina Herrera, Club Monaco, David Yurman, Diane von Furstenberg, and Jimmy Choo.
Kathy Smith, director of marketing and business development at King of Prussia Mall, said having "stores like Kneipp select King of Prussia as their first Pennsylvania and North American locations helps us solidify our position as the country's premier shopping destination."
The expansion increased the mall's footprint to 2.9 million square feet of retail space, the most at an American mall, she said.
"Traffic for just the new corridor has been averaging about 100,000 people per week," said Smith. "During the holidays the expectation is to at least double that figure."
New retailers such as American Girl, Superdry, and Louis Vuitton "yielded increased store traffic, along with positive sales," Smith said. "Additionally, KOP's new branded dining area, Savor, has become a destination in its own right."
The new restaurants for fast casual dining in the new wing are Hai Street Kitchen, Melt Shop, Nicoletta Pizzeria, Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, and the Fat Ham.
As he highlighted some products inside Kneipp on Thursday (including a 200-milliliter bottle of bath oil or bubble foam for $20, Scott Proulx, the company's U.S. general manager, explained how they got there.
He said merchandise from Europe arrives by container ship to the Port of New York and New Jersey in Newark. From there, trucks transport it to Kneipp's warehouse in Union, N.J., and from there, it is delivered by trucks to the KOP store.
"This is one of the best locations to open in," said Proulx, who was lured away as director of retail operations for the Body Shop. "The customer here is so open to new product and brands, and with the new addition to the mall, we fit right in."