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RONDA SANT ANTONI

The shadow of the wind

Antonio—pronounced “L’Antoniu” in Catalan—has managed a shoe shop in Ronda Sant Antoni 21 for over 40 years. In fact, his grandparents were the ones who opened this landmark shop to the public in the early twentieth century. It is a fantastic store, obviously featured by the City Council in its guide of historic Barcelona shops. The beautiful, modernist-style wooden showcase on the façade leads into the shopping area.

The shop is relatively small, about 40 square metres. Antonio’s daughter Marta and her husband can also be seen on the premises, accompanied by a small, brown cocker spaniel that is very friendly with customers but weirdly scared of motorcycle helmets, at which it barks incessantly. If you are privileged to be invited into the back room, you will witness the story behind the shop.

Stretching out before you you’ll see old wooden shelves, with everything painstakingly neat and classified. The back room has a charm that seduces everyone who sees it. “Do you know that this bookshelf is so old and well-known in the neighbourhood that Ruiz Zafón features it in one of his best books?” Antonio brags in a humble tone. He refers to The Shadow of the Wind, a novel set in 1940s Barcelona.
Y entonces empieza un entrañable debate familiar en la que Antonio insiste con tono de donde hay capitán no manda marinero: “No, no, Marta, es ésta, es ésta seguro”. Y como para llevarle la contraria. La verdad es que no tenemos ninguna prueba contrastada, pero en AAA estamos convencidos de que Antonio está en lo cierto.

His daughter Marta, more humble even than her father, interrupts from behind. “Well, actually we’re not sure if the book refers to this shoe shop or another one further down the street”. And then ensues a friendly family discussion in which Antonio insists (in a what-the-boss-says-goes tone), “No, no, Marta, it’s this one for sure”. Good luck trying to contradict him.

The truth is that we have no hard evidence, but at AAA we are convinced that Antonio is right. After renovating the entire building, we decided to offer Antonio the chance to buy the shop. The shoe shop that had always been run by his family, and which now moves into the fourth generation, had to be truly his. For AAA, the typical, privately owned neighbourhood establishment should not be allowed to disappear.

“Well now, thinking about Marta and her future, I would love for it to be hers, if you give me a good price…” And so Marta is now the owner of the shoe store, and we hope that future generations of her family keep the business going for many years to come. We are sure that if her mother is looking down on her now, she is happy and proud.

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