August 24, 2017

Lisbon. October, 2009

One of the remarkable things I find in old European cities (that haven’t given in to complete modernism) is the large number of single-item shops. In Rome, behind the Pantheon, I found a store that only sells underwear for priests and nuns. In Madrid, a tiny outlet that offers lace fans, period. And Luvaria Ulisses, operating in Lisbon since 1925, where you can find hundreds of pairs of finely made gloves and nothing else. Guess what Conserveira de Lisboa, this tiny and well-stocked shop in Lisbon, has been selling for more than 80 years? Cigarettes? No. Playing cards? No. It sells only cans of preserved fish. Look at all the varieties. Tuna, of course. But also sardines (with curry or clove), mackerel, squid, mussels and more. I have to wonder how a charming store like this can remain afloat? How many cans do they have to sell each day in order to meet expenses? Oh, no, what am I thinking? Have I given in to complete modernism?

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