One of the great inventions that make everyday life just that little bit easier in Greece is the tiny kiosk called “periptero”. Thousands of them exist in the cities, towns, and a significant number of villages all over the country.
The floor plan is regulated by law and is just 1.3 meters times 1.5 meters. The periptero consists of a wooden box with small windows on 3 sides and a door at the back. A triangular awning often overhangs the box, thereby providing shelter from rain and sun. Inside, wares are placed on shelves; apart from this there is typically only a chair for the operator who does business through the small windows while being seated.
One can buy cigarettes, sweets, postcards, chewing gum, key rings, maps, cookies, crisps, cold drinks, pre-paid phone cards and much more. Many also sell bus and metro tickets. In addition, nearly every periptero still operates a payphone. Because of their small size, the owners have become increasingly innovative to make the most of their business. Fridges are often standing in rows next to the periptero, one for ice cream, one for drinks, one for food like yoghurts etc. In addition, mobile stands are being put up to house magazines and newspapers, even books, sometimes even tourist items hang on shelf constructions that attached to the main periptero. So the 1.3×1.5 often takes up a good 4×3 on the pavement.
These amazingly small but very personalised businesses contribute to up to 5% of the annual GDP of Greece, they are often open even 24/7 and the average daily turnover of a single one amounts to 1500 Euros.
Those that are placed at central places or close to schools can have up to 4 times that turnover. The attraction of this small business is, that until recently, they operated a commerce that did not have to give out receipts for any of the goods sold. Of course this will soon be a thing of the past…
A license is needed for the operation and these are strictly limited. They are given to victims of war, disabled people or families with many children as state support for life. Who knows, should my business not become successful, I might have to apply for a license myself.
Many more stories about everyday life in Greece can be found here.