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Sophia’s Squat Shops

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Bulgarian “Squat Shops” emerged in Sophia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Bulgaria rejected fascism and communism in favor of capitalism.

In the late 80’s, private ownership of production was legalized in Bulgaria. Among the first businesses to appear were these small “Squat Shops,” operated out of floor-level cellar windows. Despite more legitimate storefront space becoming available, these small portals remained operational and lucrative – miniature convenience stores catering to the cigarette fix of the passing pedestrian or the midday thirst of those waiting on bus stops, for which patrons have no objection to stooping to street level. An idiosyncratic, now common element of the Bulgarian capital, over time the shops have evolved elaborate displays, framing the small street level openings with bottles of alcohol, coffee, and cartons of cigarettes, often in eye-catching bright colors. –Ivaylo Getov.

Did you get that? No one was allowed to own a private business in Bulgaria until about 30 years ago, and they’re still recovering from that brutal economic oppression.

[Click on any image above for detail. Found via here.]

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2 Responses to “Sophia’s Squat Shops”

  1. risabuzatova Says:

    Wow, I’ve squatted at many such shops but never heard the term “squat shop” in either Bulgarian or English. One winter, I was walking home on a freezing cold day and could no longer ignore the hole in my sheepskin glove. I crouched down by the basement window cum service counter of a tailor, handed the glove over, and mouth-breathed over my naked hand until the repaired glove was thrust back up at me.

  2. Bunk Strutts Says:

    risa– You know better than I do about this. Other websites that posted the same or similar subterranean convenience stores referred to them as “klek shops” “klik shops” or “kneel shops.” The whole concept intrigued me as I read about the reasons the came about. Brilliant solutions to (once) oppressive laws.

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