One of the things that has always fascinated me about Spain in general but Barcelona in particular is the large number of independent shops that seem to thrive despite competition from large chain stores or out-of-town malls.
Barcelona’s Barrio Gótico – or old centre – is full of such shops which, at the extreme, may specialise in only one product. Arlequí Màscares, in Plaza St Josep Oriol, sells only masques, many made in-house. Not far away, the hat shop Obach, was attracting a constant stream of customers through its doors when I passed by as was Subur, a shoe shop that sells only one style of shoe, albeit in a variety of colours.
In Calle de Pi is Drap, which sells dolls houses and miniature furniture and figures destined to live in them. And if you get peckish after all the walking required between shops, a few doors up is Pineda, a café which specialises cured meats.
All this is not to say that Barcelona is bereft of department stores and high-street names – in fact they were packed with people on the first day of the sales when I took these pictures – but the fact that the city is able to accommodate both is surely one of the factors Barcelona’s continued success.