New Stores in Cuba

By Nike

HAVANA TIMES – “Garage sales” have become Cuba’s new stores. I call them “Quincallas” (Trinket stores).

I remember there was one in my town when I was a little girl, and they sold all kinds of things, from shoes to lipstick.

These garage sales are now our local stores because you can find everything there, from a sweater, toothpaste, necklaces, hardware store products, and a lot more.

As a result of the crisis, we’re suffering right now, prices soar and vary across different spots in the city. The advantage is that because these sales points have an owner, you can talk and always reach a more beneficial deal for both parties.

But the prices at these stores vary depending on the municipality they’re in. For example, prices are higher in Vedado and Playa, but they are more affordable in Old Havana and you can negotiate better with owners.

There are places, like in my town, where you have cheap and more expensive one’s side by side, I call the latter ones “Quincallas Boutique”. In any case, you can reach an agreement with the owner, and they are mostly women. One detail we’re not used to is the friendly service, as the owner never wants to lose the eager customer.

I have got out of more than one tough spot by finding things in these stores and despite their poor spaces and the impression that they’ve just emptied the store window and hung it up in a doorway, I like buying in them.

The culture of wandering about a shop just for the pleasure of looking might disappear if this situation continues.

I have lots of friends who miss going into the center of Havana to nose around the shops just for the pleasure of walking about together, going in and out of shops just to loosen up a little and get out of their everyday routines and carry on their lives in a better mood. Walking with our friends fills us with joy and new ideas, as does sharing a gift whether it’s a lipstick or incense.

Many of us think that if the current situation persists, stores like the ones we knew may become a distant memory and nostalgia: two things that are maybe the saddest in life.

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I was born in Havana, Cuba. All my life I have had the sea as a landscape. I like being close to it, feeling its breeze, its smell, as well as swimming and enjoying the wonders it gives us. Thanks to the manual skill that I inherited from my parents, I have been able to live off crafts. I work primarily papier-mâché, making puppets for children. I write for Havana Times for the possibility of sharing with the world the life of my country and my people.

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