Globalization is creating a series of clone cities, one after another, and traditional shops are one of the first targets on this list. However, in Porto , there’s still some excellent examples of authentic and uncommon examples that you should visit.
During the last 5 years or so, in Porto, a high percentage of traditional, family-held shops closed their doors and left space to new businesses, targeting the growing masses of people that want to know this fabulous City. Critic voices say that Gentrification is a bitch but, still gentle with Porto and, while researching for this article, we found that one of the intended feature shops, in one week, had already closed on its original location to open, with a facelift, a couple of doors away.
In Porto, there are still a lot of local businesses that are alive and kicking, adapted to technology and new media with web pages, Instagram, and Facebook (active!) profiles. Next, some of my favorite shops in town.
In 1948, in Rua Cimo de Vila 67, close to S. Bento Train Station, opened Casa Crocodilo (Crocodile Shop). When you get in and see a huge reptile hanging above your head, you’ll understand why it is named like this. Rua Cimo de Vila and, close by, Rua Chã is traditionally linked with leather, skins and related appliances like wallets, handbags, belts, seats, and shoes, but slowly, very slowly are readapting and rebranding. If you have a damaged belt or want a real leather wallet this is the place to come. Also, very popular, are handmade gloves and the authentic sheepskin slippers from Serra da Estrela, the Portuguese Ugg’s.
Escovaria de Belomonte was founded in 1927, and it is located close to the end of Rua das Flores on the direction to Jardim das Virtudes. On the right side of Rua de Belomonte, you will find a beautiful Vintage banner announcing the small shop/workshop that produces and sells several kinds of brushes (Escovas in Portuguese) including hair, clothing, shoes and a curious one made with brass wires that are used to polish jewelry. At the entrance, you will be immediately surprised with brooms that were, some might say, an inspiration to J.K. Rowling when creating the Broomsticks like Moontrimmer or Nimbus 2000, on the Harry Potter Series.
They also sell Semogue shaving brushes, produced in northern Portugal, considered excellent in its kind. The owner is very nice and passionate about his job, and it seems that the business is booming.
Casa Mousinho, in Rua Mouzinho da Silveira 118, very close to Praça do Infante and Ribeira, started selling fabrics and printed goods in 1961, but soon they realized that their niche was flags, exclusively. They sell them in all sizes and shapes, pillows included, from all the nations and nations without a state, Portuguese cities, mini flags from associations and groups, pennants and banners. If you don’t find what you need they can take care of it and ship it to you later. The owner, one of the founders will help you with that and tell you everything about flags.
You can find Casa Hortícola, in one of the corners of Mercado do Bolhão, on the outside – Rua Sá da Bandeira 304. It opened in 1921 and they sell all kinds of seeds, bulbs, plants, flowers and gardening products. There we can find seeds of some Portuguese vegetables like Penca de Natal or Couve da Póvoa, a must on Christmas dinner. This cozy, beautiful and small place has the same aspect since it was founded, first as a Sausage shop, and it still sells a lot of seeds to the newest generations of Porto’s citizens.
Luckily, it seems that the traditional shops are secured for one more generation or so.