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Tangible Signs of the Crisi Global in Gracia, Barcelona

8 March, 2010 (15:27) | Living in Europe | By: admin

I have been documenting some of the tangible signs that the global crisis has hit my own little neighborhood of Gracia, and I say with sadness that Mark and I are part of the trend of what can only be described as the changing of the guards. We are lucky to have lived in Gracia for a full year before the crisis began to hit. Many multi-generational small Mom and pop businesses went out of business. My favorite drogueria, where we used to buy everything from cleaning supplies to rat poison to bizarre but useful impulse purchases, is now a boutique, but the new store has left the drogueria sign up, even though that funky store is no longer there. Entering the old drogueria always felt like stepping back in time. I do miss the nostalgic feeling I would get from just entering the place. But now it is spanking clean inside. This was one of the first signs that things were changing in our neighborhood.

This new dress shop was once filled with everything from household cleaning products, cosmetics, to rat poison.

The tienda (store) next door to our house was a uniform supply outlet called “Climax”. They had been in business in the same space for 2 generations. It was a company that sold helmets, gloves, workers gear, uniforms. When workers began to get laid off, the domino effect was that their products were no longer in demand. Mark and I were able to take advantage of living next door, as the lady whose father had established the business over 50 years ago, liked us and helped us lease the space for under 400 euros a month, which is quite a steal, even in the recession. Here is a photo of the store we took over with its old sign, and next to it the same store, but now it is our Partners in Rhyme headquarters. We are part of the tipping point in Gracia…


1) Climax uniform shop goes under 2) to be replaced by the new Partners In Rhyme sign 3) Mark at his desk at the new Partners In Rhyme storefront 4) We had this Florentine “giglio” painted on our security door.

Paquita, the namesake of a store on the corner of Plaça Villa de Gracia, closed shop because after working there over 30 years the lease on the space was up because they doubled the price to renew her store lease. She is entitled to her “jubilacion” (paid retirement), so she is now looking forward to her freedom. She lives in Gracia, has many friends already in retirement here, and is not sad to let go of her shop. Although I always found the outfits in her store to be dowdy, she catered to all the elderly who still reside in Gracia and I’ve always appreciated the charm of this. I am now speaking Catalan, and she tells me in Catalan that she always watches me throwing sticks for my dog in the Plaça and has admired how well behaved my perrito is. She says she will still come to the plaça for some sun, and looks forward to seeing me there.


1) Modes Paquita has been a fixture on the corner of Plaça Rius y Taulet (recently renamed Plaça Vila de Gracia) 2) Paquitas 3/4 liquidated 3) You can see Paquita herself at the counter of her empty shop 4) The store is now vacant.

Gracia is starting to turn “piho” (upscale). Here’s a nice car parked on our street but also a homeless man just 2 blocks away:IMG_0070IMG_0402

Many of the tiny multi-generational shops are going under, which is sad because they were part of the fabric of this neighborhood.

Here are some more photos of various shops in my neighborhood in a state of liquidation:


I’m going to miss Casa Mas Joan Alimentacion Supermarket and liquor locker. I’ll be curious to see who takes over this big space.


This shop is also a corner store on Plaça Vila de Gracia. It used to sell “trastos” (knick knacks) and used furniture. I am curious what products this new “La Moda” store will sell.

Some more nearby shops in a state of change:

Some more shops in a state of transition

Many quaint businesses in my neighborhood have survived the times though, so fortunately, the charm of this district is intact. In the future I will dedicate another blog to my neighborhood, Gracia, and how vibrant and traditional it remains despite the slow morph from a fiercely Catalan neighborhood to a slightly more tolerant, multi-generational barrio.