Before retirement I worked in Florida ( I know but somebody had to do it), and the house we rented had a large outside bar but no bar stools. I love outside bars and so almost the first thing we purchased for this unfurnished house were 4 high bar stools with arm rests and comfortable back rests too. When we left we bought them will us eventually to our house here in Puglia but no bar. A proper bar here is expensive to buy so I hoped to find a high round table to have the stools around . I have searched high and low for several years and yesterday in, of all places, Villa Castelli I found one in a store called Bufano. But I didn’t have a card with me to pay for it and only about 3 euros in my pocket, however a big awning across the front of the store announced “Open every Sunday”.
Mario Monti in early 2012 in one of the few reforms he brought in relaxed the laws on shopping hours. In fact relax is the wrong word he did away with them and said stores could open 24 hours a day 7 days a week if they wanted. His reasoning as a Goldman Sachs USA based economist was to improve the economy . He had clearly forgotten he was back in the country where he was brought up. I remember in the UK in 1994 when Sunday shopping was introduced the rush by stores to open and the hoards of people that took advantage of it. Mario had gone one better, how would Italian shops and consumers respond. Well here in Puglia damp squib hardly describes it. Nothing opened and therefore no consumers could flock anywhere. The recession has deepened, the number of stores closing permanently has risen to almost 10,000 a month but did any of them experiment with opening on Sunday before going under? Well none that I saw. Recently a few supermarkets have started to open from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. on Sundays in the towns and the larger malls in Brindisi and Bari are open most of Sunday too but nothing else. Even many bars close Sunday afternoon and in non tourist areas all day Sunday.
Bufano is a very much smaller version of B&Q or Home Depot or Canadian Tire but unlike it’s big cousins abroad if it has purchasing muscle it uses it to increase profit not lower prices. It is the same with the large Supermarkets here and places like Leroy Merlin which is the same as those foreign cousins I mentioned. In fact in most cases you pay more than you do in the small store around the corner. Their marketing proposition seems to be” drive out of town to us and get a little more choice at higher prices”. Enticing isn’t it ? Even the shoe shops are as bad in the Malls
But back to Bufano. They evidently decided to open on Sundays and had this huge sign prepared and hung. The idea of finally getting the tall table and being able to sit on the patio with drinks in my previously obsolete bar stools meant I could hardly sleep last night and at 10 a.m. I was in the car on the way to Villa Castelli. Who knew how many thousands would be there fighting over the high table if I delayed.My wife was less excited and seemed unsure that the demand could be great but I was already planning this evening’s cocktail list and started practising like this guy.
Bufano looked strangely quiet as we arrived, no cars, no people and the huge sign was gone. They were closed. Clearly the pleasant weather and an urge to go to the beach had again overcome the marketing drive . Crisis what crisis.
Finally Roger Laverne died last week. He played keyboards in the group The Tornados and their one big hit was Telstar that they released in 1962 to celebrate the launch of the first telecommunications satellite . People in the UK could now phone the USA bouncing calls off it and broadcasting could use it as well. As not many people had phones I’m not sure of the value of it . We were living about 20 miles from London Heathrow which was still considered way out in the countryside and our phone was a party line meaning some one else also had the line so you could listen in to their conversations which was far more interesting than phoning the USA.
The Tornados real claim to fame was that they were the backing group to Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley , Billy Fury and his claim to fame was that when she was 12 years old my sister thought he was the bees knees and not an inch of her bedroom wall didn’t sport a photo of him, so just to embarrass her
Now I know why she became a stewardess .