Postcard from... Galicia


Click to follow
The Independent Online


The battle for economic survival in Spain’s ongoing recession has now got so fierce that intense lateral thinking is almost the norm for its business and arts communities. 

But when some enterprising shop owners in the north-western city of Lugo decided to open Galicia’s – and quite possibly Spain’s – first ironmonger-cum-bookstore, the unusual combination has sparked large amounts of attention.

“Where else would I go if I only wanted to buy a pair of pliers and a novel?” one delighted customer asked rhetorically in the local newspaper, La Voz de Galicia. And that’s not all.

In the same single aisle you can find everything you might need in the way of scythes, shears and gardening wellies – and also novels by Jules Verne, JK Rowling and José Saramago.

“There’s no other work around, and as there’s no possibility of doing any higher studies, I thought this was a way of keeping our head above water,” one of the shop’s owners, Boris, who has just finished his degree in business studies, told La Voz de Galicia.

One indirect result is a shop window in which, entertainingly, it is never possible to know what will be on display.

This week, for example, as students begin their classes all over Spain the window is replete with school books – and next week, during the buildup to the celebrations of Saint Froilan, Lugo’s patron saint, potas, the special kitchen utensils used locally for cooking squid – eaten in huge quantities during the festival – will be in pride of place instead.