The sense of Emblemáticos

My grandfather managed a store called Establecimientos Mercurio in Inca for more than 30 years. My father says that it was the store that had the first television in Inca. When they put it behind the counter they had to lower the barrier so that the neighbours wouldn’t break the glass by pushing to get a closer look.

Many years have gone by since that episode at Establecimientos Mercurio and small businesses have flourished since then. The Internet has shown us how digital identity is at least as important as physical identity, and how the value of distributors has been progressively decreasing. We have also seen how large distribution chains have taken over the streets of towns and cities, making all streets in European cities look alike, and how small businesses have gradually closed down.

The pandemic and the resulting economic crisis have done the rest in the small businesses still standing where, naturally, only those with a different scenario survive, those that provide additional value that neither the Internet nor the prices of the large chains and stores can match. They are establishments that serve their target audience in a different way, combine their products and sales counters in an original and unique way, and stand out for their personalised customer service. They are small businesses from the 21st century.

There are stores that have survived not only this crisis but also five more, and therefore have historical value. Some contain protected heritage elements, which characterise and distinguish them from others. And there are those that are different because they are unique and firmly established in the region, or promote business all year round in the municipality or the island where they are located.

The aim of the Emblemáticos project is to recognise and promote these stores. Emblematic stores must be recognised and made known, which is the objective of this project.

Stores are the soul of towns and cities, they are the excuse for neighbours to meet and share their news, they are places to meet up. As citizens, we can choose to consume individual products sold by people, keep towns and cities alive, observe the neighbours who pass by on the street and decide to maintain the urban landscape. As a Local Authority, we refuse to accept an urban landscape without people in the street, ground floors closed and silence in the town. We are committed to small businesses from the 21st century that offer buyers a different experience, and this project integrates this commitment.

Besides the Balearic Institute of Business Innovation (IDI) team: Marga, Bàrbara, Neus and Lucía, we have also asked the town councils of the Balearic Islands for help to identify these emblematic buildings, and we appreciate their collaboration in this process. It is not only a question of identifying them, but also about making policies that continue to function over time. Issues of heritage conservation, generational change-over, craftsmanship are on the table. Quite a challenge, but we will try to be up to it.

Mariona Luis

Managing Director IDI