Fruteria – How to open a small business

December 04, 2009 By: erik Category: Colindres, Musings, Photos 841 views

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Fruit Stand ConversationRecently a small shop in town selling decorative housewares, that had been there for the entire four years we’ve lived here, went out of business. While it was always interesting to look into their shop window, I think I only went in once, and the shopkeeper wasn’t very pleasant, so nothing was purchased. The shop was on a prime corner right in the center of town. I can’t think of a better location for a shop in town. So of course I was pretty curious as to who would jump on that choice piece of real estate. It was empty for a couple weeks, and then the painting started.

The facade that used to be white was painted yellow, and plastic-covered blown up photos of fruit were added. This trick has been used by a candy shop in town as well. There’s something about seeing enormous pieces of candy that make you want to eat some. Then one day it opened. The layout of the inside is gorgeous and every fruit and vegetable is easily visible. And they always have a good selection of everything, including exotic fruits like higos chumbos. Immediately the place was filled with customers.

I walk by this shop every day, and the husband and wife that run the place are always so busy. If there’s a customer, they are serving them, and when there’s not, they are loading crates of fruit off a van, reorganizing displays, or cleaning. I’ve only been in there twice, and each time, I was barely over the threshold before someone was asking me what I wanted. The place is spotless and looks great at all times. That takes a lot of work!

This place pleases me because it’s a model for a good work ethic. If you are willing to work hard, be nice to customers, and keep your shop looking great, then you can be a success. (Or at least appear to be, as I don’t have any idea how profitable the place is.)


I took this photograph with my HD video camera. The tilting viewfinder and the 15x zoom allows for very covert photography. I was about 50 meters away at the time. Anyway, I like this photograph for lots of reasons. It captures the small Spanish town atmosphere of a shop owner chatting with an old man on a bicycle. You’d be surprised how many old men on bikes there are around here. Too bad about the fence post in the foreground.

Fruit Stand Conversation

  • Josh

    Unfortunately, the Spanish government (and society as a whole) doesn’t do much to foment or reward a good work ethic. As the government continues to grind away at the small business owner with exorbitant taxes, ridiculous hiring requirements, and virtually nothing in the way of protection for the owner; the clientele will continue to haggle over ever last sprig of celery, and are all to willing to abandon one business in favor of another for real or perceived faults/price benefits. This is why you see so many businesses here with slothful, surly employees and un-renovated or poorly maintained premises. (Just from your photo, I see a hefty fine in the fruteria’s future, unless the proprietor gets his wheelchair access up to snuff.)

    Look at the data on unemployment rates among small business owners and you’ll start to appreciate how serious this problem is. Por desgracia, I think that a reversal of this trend would require such an enormous cultural/political shift, that I doubt that we’ll ever manage to bring it about.

  • Paul

    I am displeased by your characterization of the man on the bike as “old”.

    • Do you prefer the term “pensioner”?

  • Ines

    I’ve got to agree with your father…what’s old about a man on a bike wearing a red jumper and a black hat?

  • Uncle Neil

    That guy on the bike looks like a young man. Nice shop. No snow there yet ehhh?

  • Knowing what a grind it can be to actually become “autonomous” or to start a business here, I truly expected market forces to have a POSITIVE effect on customer service rendered by small businesses that have stayed in business long enough for me to notice them, and therefore, I assume, actually wanted to STAY in business.

    So far, I have widely been disappointed, but not totally. In total, it doesn’t seem to have had much effect one way or the other.