The little shops stick together

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Shopping locally is popular, but when small businesses stick together, it's even better. In Esch, Babbocaffè's manager, Saro Pica, has brought together several local actors to offer ‘brunch boxes’ filled with their products. The initiative brings together local shopkeepers who have every intention of surviving the crisis.

The Babbocaffè is open in the afternoons, for take-away only. Even if his shop is never entirely deserted, Saro Pica remains bitter about the never-ending crisis: “I’m at 30–35 percent of my usual activity. Normally, the bar and my terrace represent half of my sales. At present, I get to open on the afternoons.. But I want to keep in touch and above all show that we are still here.” Filled to the brim with projects, he came up with the idea of teaming up with Esch’s shopkeepers with whom he already works to offer ‘brunch boxes’ for take away on Saturdays and Sundays. His priority is to draw the attention to local shops that are struggling to keep the town alive and offer high quality products: “The bread and pastries are from Cayotte, where I normally buy my supplies in the morning, the charcuterie is from Peporté, cheeses from the restaurant Postkutsch, prosecco from Drupi’s, he’s my brother! Since there are no dairy products being produced in Esch, I go to the Molkerei Thiry where you can get the best yoghurts. While priority is given to Esch’s businesses, we want to support local production in general.”

Rediscovering local shopkeepers

Since the first lockdown, a real craze has developed around local producers. Home deliveries of fruit and vegetables. The rediscovery of home cooking led to the rediscovery of neighbourhood shops or at least a reconsideration of their importance. The announcement of the ‘brunch boxes’ on Babbocaffè's Facebook page was a big hit: “22,000 views, I couldn’t believe it! For the launch I had limited it to 50 boxes, but we quickly went up to 100 due to demand”, explains the manager, who reached some 300 people within three weekends. Orders for the weekends can be placed until Thursday evening, when Saro Pica collects the goods from the traders, organises and prepares everything: “I take into account the feedback, both the customer’s and the shopkeeper’s.” He already looks for variations to keep the idea fresh: “We live in a society where everything goes very fast, we have to constantly offer new products because customers might get bored”, so he already thinks of a different kind of brunch for every week for the month of February.

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