Jose Anselmo Moreno |
Valladolid (EFE).- Alejandro Pérez García is a little over 40 years old, and he has been “resisting” for a decade in his kiosk in front of the Calderón Theater in Valladolid, but when talking about the problems of these emblematic spaces that disappear from the streets of all Spain, and once they are closed they look like bunkers, he does so with a point of rebellion and, in fact, he is very active on social networks because he wants to reactivate his business at any cost.
He assures in an interview with EFE that the street kiosks are more complicated, since those who are in a store can sell a carton of milk if they want, but “there is an ordinance that establishes that the kiosks at street level can only sell 20 percent of products that are not paper and that limits a lot”, Alejandro emphasizes while he says that there are already cities where kiosks can serve coffee.
He also affirms that the pandemic was a disaster because the problem of misinformation arose, when people believed that the paper transmitted the virus. “I remember an ad about the covid that showed a person with a magazine transmitting the virus and many of our veteran buyers were no longer coming or leaving their children. In fact, they told parents not to go down to the kiosk and taught them to read the publications on a computer,” she says.
Alejandro also talks about how some bars decided that this was the “perfect excuse” to do without a minor expense, such as newspapers or magazines, and he recalls that the hotel industry received aid but the kiosks did not.
She also says that she took advantage of the first months of the pandemic to change her six-square-meter kiosk for another eight and, incidentally, prevent a colleague who had to close from bearing the crane costs when raising her surface.
Now Alejandro is boosting the sale of comics and also speeding up the sale of newspapers because “since so many colleagues have closed, there aren’t many places to buy them anymore, that’s why they come to me and even ask me to please not close.”
He assures that you can still get a “fair” salary working as a newsstand, but in his case he works a “marathon” schedule from seven in the morning to eight at night and now, that they are going to put on a musical at the Teatro Calderón, he will be until 10:30 p.m.
“I live with my parents and I don’t have much else to do, but if I do the numbers of what I work and what I earn, it can cost less than 6 euros an hour,” he stresses.
He says that there will not be many more than 30 active street kiosks in Valladolid, although the local ones are holding up better. In this context, he recounts with desolation that from November to February almost 20 kiosks have been erected, some of them very traditional.
The fact of being in front of the Calderón Theater makes Alejandro accumulate many anecdotes because, for example, he can witness the SEMINCI red carpet and even actors or actresses go to buy from his business.
“What happens is that since SEMINCI’s cinema is much more auteur, sometimes you don’t recognize them when they come to buy until, the next day, you see them on the front page of a newspaper,” he says.
In front of his eyes he has not only seen celebrities pass by, the fact of spending so many hours in his facility has made him witness many things, such as traffic accidents or tourists lost in the city, whom he redirects.
“I am always here and what happens in front of my eyes does not escape me, newsstands are a kind of serene 2.0”, he ironically.
Informants on the street
“We know what is happening in our area, and we can provide information on a good menu, the schedule of mass or act as tourist guides”, adds Alejandro while, from time to time, he interrupts the conversation to deliver.
Precisely the fact that these kinds of miniature buildings, such as kiosks, are disappearing, makes the landscape of cities somewhat depersonalized.
This is what the Consumers Union (UCE) points out, José Luis Picado, who assures EFE that the closure of kiosks and traditional stores now means that the central streets of the cities are all “very similar”, with stores of similar brands and there is “some loss of identity”.
And one of those traditional businesses that are closing down are those kiosks that almost no longer sell stickers and that are currently made of aluminum or cast iron. It was where the work of journalists ended before the digital age, but they are disappearing. In addition, the aesthetic damage when closing them is enormous since, without magazines and displays, they end up full of graffiti.
From the Consistory they indicate that there are some 38 active kiosks in Valladolid, plus almost a dozen closed although, of the inactive ones, several have recently been withdrawn. The vast majority are private and four belong to the City Council.
Competition from the online press and the fact that sweets are now being purchased in large stores has left them empty of content, although Alejandro says he will continue. By writing a paper with what he earns on good and bad days, he gets much less than those six euros an hour, as he had calculated during the interview, but he ends up saying: “I’ll keep fighting.” EFE