Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Shops

We don't have a shop in Culebrón. Not a one. Pinoso has a reasonable range though. Small businesses predominate. The sort of place where the goods are kept in the back, where you have to ask for things, where screws are counted out and where they punch the extra holes into the belt. Window displays are generally utilitarian rather than artistic.

Larger Spanish towns generally have modern, corporate retailing with big out of town shopping centres and recognisable names. But in amongst the town centre chain stores with their modern window dressing, background music, careful lighting and English language slogans there will be any number of small, anachronistic businesses. Maggie summed it up neatly when I mentioned the news story I'd read. "Ah, the corset shops."

There they are. Shops that smell of leather or paper. Shops with a hotch potch of stationery yellowing at the edges and maps showing the Soviet Union. Shops with boxes of ribbons, knicker elastic, needles and buttons. Costume jewellery shops with piles of pearl necklaces and butterfly brooches. Clothes shops with flat caps, overalls, green cord trousers and polyester housecoats next to A line skirts. Ironmongers with wooden pitchforks and galvanized buckets.

I''ve often wondered how they survive. My guess was historic rents, the family living frugally over the shop and running them on long hours and pitiful wages. And that's what it is - at least the first part about rents. Apparently something called the Boyer Law froze rents on a range of shops that had leases before 1985. The freeze was for twenty years. This means that in January 2015 suddenly the rents will have no protection and the prediction is that lots of those little businesses will be unable to stay open. Rent rises of 1000% are predicted on properties in the bigger towns and cities.

It was a common complaint in the UK as I remember. All the towns look the same with the same chain shops in the same street. Maybe it will soon be the same in Spain.

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