"We are a family business. Why do they have to break our windows?"

The Vall shop, in Gran de Gràcia, is one of those affected by the riots of these days in Barcelona

2 min
The Vall store, with the window covered with cardboard after it was attacked by protesters

BarcelonaSurrounded by big brands like Pull&Bear, Zara, Vodafone or Orange, there are still family businesses that survive in Gran de Gràcia street. One of them is the almost century-old shop Vall, which sells bags, suitcases, and accessories. It was founded in 1923 by Esther Vall's great-grandparents, in premises at number 165, which started out as a basket and furniture shop. Over the years, the business has evolved towards accessories and they have opened a shop in Escorial street and, just two months ago, another one at number 108, on the corner with Ros de Olano. Esther, along with her sister, are the fourth generation of the family that runs this business in the heart of Gràcia. They have been "desperate" for a week: "The first day of the riots they painted the shop with acid and on Saturday they broke our windows. In short: everything is terrible", she explains to the ARA. Although the big headlines of the riots have been taken by the stores of the looted multinationals, Esther's case gives voice to small businesses that have also been affected by the riots of these days against the imprisonment of the rapper Pablo Hasél.

Nike shop on Passeig de Gràcia the day after the looting

"One thing is to fight for an injustice, and the other is this. If they commit an injustice against you, don't commit another one against someone who has nothing to do with it", Esther says. "The fault lies with the laws, not with the city. Let them demonstrate, but you don't have to spoil the city", she adds. As a neighborhood business with lifelong customers, Esther says that the large multinationals that have gradually conquered this commercial area have left them "behind". "We are a family business, why do they have to break our windows? On Saturday my mother stood in front of the shop window and got into a fight with a guy. She asked him: "Why are you doing all this?" And the boy told her that they were doing it because they are against the government. But we are not the government. We are a shop and it has cost us a lot of effort, a lot of sleepless nights. All my savings are here", she regrets.

When they saw the damage, the world fell on their heads. Not only because they calculate that fixing it "will cost four figures for sure", but because they have had to throw away the products displayed in the windows, which were full of stones. And because now, with the cardboard on the facade covering the damage, it seems that the store is closed. "We have very few sales, we have had a few very bad days", she sums up. And because all this comes after a very hard year, of total and partial closures due to the pandemic and furloughed workers that have affected part of the workforce. "It's very hard", she says.