In this almost normal state of living, I’ve found a lot of my favorite places closed forever. It was painful to roam the streets and seeing so many closed doors and shutters.
Even though the real estate prices have skyrocketed in the last few years, as we all saw happening in downtown Porto, more surprising than seeing a small business close its doors when faced with a crisis, was seeing the places that remained open. Highly franchised commerce, for sure. Worldwide brands, yap! As I tried to make sense of it all, I didn´t recognize myself walking around downtown. Was this still my Porto?
Sure, some small businesses still managed to work somehow, going along with the restrictions. Adapting their products to the limitations, but they hardly made any profit, on the contrary, it took an investment that did not increase revenue. As I talked with some of my friends currently struggling, I heard various versions of “Was just working so I wouldn´t lose my clients”. Made me wonder, are these clients going to lose them?
And what about the small businesses that closed their doors for good? You know, the kind of shops that make you stop and look at their windows, the hand embroidery towels, the small jewelry store, the restaurants where they go to your table asking if you want more food because nobody leaves hungry from his place. What about these places?
I always think these are the shops, restaurants that give essence to a city. The amount of effort that takes every detail of creating and decorating your new place, really shows when a customer walks in. It’s a sort of vibe, energy about it, don´t you agree?
It makes the city feel genuine, makes me believe that any dream is possible, gets people’s voices heard and it tells me about ourselves. I love showing these stores, telling the story behind their creations, getting tourists to meet the owners, making a connection beyond profit. Believe me, some people are unforgettable!
What becomes of a city, when it doesn´t have its people in it? Are we really in a one size fits all kind of world?
I have a question for you, as you walk around your town, do you still feel like it is your city? How about you, fellow countryman is this still your Porto?
Comment and let me know!