La tienda y final

This is a quick translation into English.
original en castellano, más abajo

The shop was bigger than the shop of the previous year, where Paula had met Josu and then had become a closer friend with Luna. Both refused to put on aprons, that was the privilege they had earned for being forced to be the investors, and nobody could say a word. They did not make leaflets that they would need to give out in the street next to the door of the shop, either. Nevertheless, their shop was a great deal much busier than the shop of the previous year. Which did not mean that all the people who would visit the shop would be buying more, but they were indeed selling much more every day. The new location, more in a passing street than in a high street, was playing an important role. And part of the outreach they had done. They put a request on one of the counters, one of those that asks for people’s signatures, and in moments of calmness they realised that there were people entering the shop only to sign it. Then the internationalists guys, the same ones who allowed them to sell Palestinian handkerchiefs and zapatista bandanas, were ever so grateful that Paula and Luna would give them so many sheets of paper so full of signatures, and Paula and Luna were grateful that they allowed them to have in the shop these sheets of paper that were attracting so many people.

Then Christmas was over and Paula and Luna thought that the season’s consumerism, and with it the gust of selling, would be over with it too. But it was not like that, because then the sales came. People were no longer coming to their shop looking for alternative gifts for their families, nor cheap gifts for their invisible friends. Now they were looking for clothes and sales. But they had no sales.
“And why?”
“Because with the margins with which we work, we hardly cover the rent.” Which had been true in November and December, but at the pace things were going, what would happen in January was so unknown. “And in order to reduce prices further we would have to reduce the price that we pay to the producers. And they are already desperate enough.”
It was not a too orthodox response but the lady was content and did not ask any more.

Then the students came. Documentaries directors wannabes who wanted to make a video about the sales.
“ We have no sales. This is Fair Trade. ”
The lads remained amazed for a moment and then came back on the following day. The reduction in customers visits was already evident in the shop.
“Hi, well, we have thought, and the teacher has given us permission, that we are not going to do a video on the reductions. We are going to do it on Fair Trade. Can we interview you? ”

By the middle of January Paula and Luna were already spending most of the day reading the books that they had on sale because there was no more work. They mainly received the occasionally visit of ambulant sellers.
“Look, I bring to you these very cute earrings and jewels, and now they are discounted, and…” Luna cut him:
“I am sorry but we are going to be able to buy you things only if they come from Fair Trade.”
“What? That do you mean, of, fair trade … ”
“We buy with a series of criteria, on whom produces it, in what conditions … For example, what you are bringing, does a workers co-operative make it? ”
“ Hmm. Not.”
“Then we cannot buy to you anything ”
“ Ah not ”
“ No. ”
And many entered the shop this way when there were no more customers entering. The last one who entered was a gentleman in a suit selling what looked like, from his respective chairs Luna and Paula were sitting on, female underwear.
“How are you?!”, The seller snapped. (“How is that any of your business”, thought Paula) (“That’s none of your bloody business”, thought Luna). Luna and Paula behaved politely on that occasion, as it corresponds to two professional shop assistants and politely refused his merchandise.

Paula and Luna started to talk about the future of the shop. They had been pleasantly surprised by the hordes of people swarming the shop right after Christmas, looking for sales and still buying their clothes even though their price was not reduced. They had expected to be completely alone in their shop after the festive period, and seeing so many people – and sales – well after that was a high. But even that was draining now. Still, they were determined to not let the months that the shop had lasted so far to become a nicely lived dream and make the shop last for as long as possible and thought of ways to boost sales at least for the following months. Paula did not have much imagination but Luna came one day radiant with ideas.
Paula had been looking at the accounts and had come to the conclusion that they had to sell more clothes; Luna had been looking at the clothes and concluded that to sell more clothes, they needed them in European and not American sizes.

The jumpers were all of bright and showy colors. They needed someone with a strong, and or artistic personality to wear them, but this was not the most difficult requirement.The hardest thing for Luna was getting her head into the hole for the neck. The trouble was that her head was not big enough and the wool was not elastic enough to make itself big enough. Luna tried was of the jumpers and took it off quickly before suffocating.

“Look, Paula. I have made a decision. ”
Paula looked at Luna in silence. She liked being able to listen to her without interrupting her and without having to do grunts or croakings or other signs to indicate that she was listening.
‘I am preparing patterns and designs to send them to Bolivia because the jumpers they send us are impossible to sell, even I would not put them on myself either. ”
Paula remembered a conversation that they had had months earlier about patterns, imperialism and cultures, and wished her luck. Before Paula could say anything, Luna recaptured the thread:
‘I know it is their culture. But we are here to sell their products so that the people use them, not so that they them for charity and keep in the closet only to throw them away after a few years of ‘perhaps I’ll wear it one day.’
‘Right, “said Paula. ‘ It is not me who you have to convince. It does not matter to me. It is other people, and more or less we both already know who they are. On the other hand, it could be just easier to bring things through the Andalusian importer. I don’t know why, but their clothes always seems more marketable. Why don’t we buy from them and that way we do not have to send patterns to Bolivia?’
“I want to draw patterns, it makes me happy. ”
“It does not to me. I do not know how to draw patterns and I am not going to learn now. I already spend enough time doing the accounts at home. ”
” OK. ”

They arranged to meet on a Wednesday, which were the usual days for meetings. Also it was a day of football match.
Luna preferred to not go to the meeting. Perhaps she knew by intuition which was going to be the decision and she did not want to be present. Paula presented the accounts before the attentive look of all the volunteers of the committee, including Jose, Ara and the priest. The comparisons with the previous shop, in which Paula had begun his volunteering in Fair Trade, were inevitable.
“… although we have sold much more than the last year’s shop.”
“Is that true? Have they sold more?”
“Yes, much more. ”
Days later, Josu would comment: “whoever asked that, was never, neither in a shop nor in the other one.”

But now they were making the decision of whether to keep on struggling for the shop whose takings had already gone down, although not so much as they had expected before the season’s sales.
“Can you tell to us exactly what you need ”
“After doing accounts, we have seen, that to last at least one more month, we would have to do a big order of clothes to another co-operative organisation that buys big quantities for Fair Trade. Because now people come to the shop looking for clothes, because of the sales. ”
“But this other organisation, they do not only buy from South America ”
“No they don’t. We would have to buy things from Africa and Asia too.
But they bring and manage everything, and we can just place our order with them.”
“And all that with which money?”
“With the takings from Christmas after paying the rent.”
Paula and Luna had not separated anything for their own salaries.
“Well we had agreed that we were going to bring things only from South America.”
That one was the first news that Paula had received about restrictions as to what things that could be bought, but that was the way in which Salva seemed to have decided it. But now the book-keeper was speaking:
“It seems that you are asking us to make a decision. And you, what do you want to do?”
“We want to continue, but in order to continue, it is necessary to spend this money on a big order. We either really go for it, or would rather not go at all. And we do not want to do it without your support so if you do not agree, it would be better to close.”
“Yes. I believe that it is better to close.”
It was Salva that had said he was a priest in a meeting where most were Christians, in his parish. Nobody was going to contradict him.
This was going to be the decision and a bit of Paula’s heart must have got broken because she remained without being able to articulate more than monosyllables. She only managed to articulate a finished phrase when they had already gone out of the shop – garage. Jose and she were travelling together the way that they had in common, surrounded with fans of the football local team who were coming out of the stadium.
“How are you, that do you think.”
“We kind of knew it, that the shop was not going to last for too. But I did not imagine that it would happen so fast.”


La tienda era más grande que la del año anterior, donde Paula había conocido a Josu y luego se había hecho más amiga de Luna. Ambas se negaron a ponerse delantales, para eso se habían visto obligadas a ser las inversoras, y nadie pudo decir esta boca es mía. Tampoco hicieron panfletos que hubiera que dar en la calle, junto a la puerta de la tienda. Aún así, entraba mucha más gente que a la tienda del año anterior. Lo que no significaba que toda la gente que entrara comprase más, pero sí que se vendiera mucho más por día. La nueva situación, en una calle más de paso que comercial, jugaba un papel importante. Y parte del marketing que habían hecho. Pusieron una petición en uno de los mostradores, de esas en las que se pide la firma de la gente, y en momentos de tranquilidad se dieron cuenta de que había gente que entraba en la tienda solamente para firmarla. Luego los chicos internacionalistas, los mismos que les dejaban vender pañuelos palestinos y bandanas zapatistas, les estaban agradecidísimos de que les pasasen tantos folios tan llenos de firmas, y ellas agradecidas de que les dejasen tener en la tienda esos folios que tanta gente atraían.
Luego la navidad terminó y con ella, Paula y Luna pensaron que terminaría también el consumismo, y con él la racha de ventas. Pero no fue así, porque luego llegaron las rebajas. La gente ya no entraba en la tienda buscando regalos alternativos para su familia ni baratos para sus amigos invisibles. Ahora buscaban ropa y en rebajas. Pero ellas no tenían rebajas.
“Y por qué?”
“Porque con los margenes con los que trabajamos apenas cubrimos la renta” Lo cual había sido cierto en noviembre y diciembre, pero al paso que iban no se sabia lo que pasaría en enero. “Y para poner rebajas tendríamos que rebajar el precio que pagamos a los productores. Y bastante mal están ya.”
No era una respuesta demasiado ortodoxa pero la señora se conformó y no preguntó más.

Luego vinieron los estudiantes. Aspirantes a directores de documentales que querían hacer un video sobre las rebajas.
“Nosotras no tenemos rebajas. Esto es comercio justo.”
Los chavales se quedaron pasmados un momento y vinieron al día siguiente. Ya se notaba la bajada de visitas de clientela en la tienda.
“Que, hemos pensado, y nos ha dado permiso la profesora, que no vamos a hacer un video sobre las rebajas. Lo vamos a hacer sobre comercio justo. Nos dejáis que os entrevistemos?”

Para mediados de enero Paula y Luna ya se pasaban la mayor parte del día leyendo los libros que tenían a la venta porque no había más trabajo. De vez en cuando entraban vendedores ambulantes de mercancía

“Mira os traigo estos pendientes de pedrería monismos, y ahora vienen con descuento, y …” Luna le cortó:
“Lo siento pero solo te vamos a poder comprar cosas si son de comercio justo.”
“Que? Que quieres decir, de, comercio justo…”
“Compramos con una serie de criterios, sobre quien lo produce, en que condiciones … Por ejemplo, lo que traes, lo hace una cooperativa de trabajadores?”
“Hmm. No.”
“Pues no te podemos comprar nada”
“Ah no?”
Y así entraron bastantes en la tienda cuando ya no entraban clientes. El último que entró fue un señor con traje vendiendo lo que les pareció, desde sus respectivas sillas a Luna y a Paula, ropa interior femenina.
“Como estáis?!” Les espetó el vendedor. Luna y Paula se comportaron en aquella ocasión educadamente como corresponde a dos profesionales del comercio y buena presencia, pero sus mentes pensaron al unisono:
“Y a ti que te importa, como estamos.”

Paula estaba más que agradecida por los meses que había durado la tienda pero Luna estaba decidida a que no acabara ahí. Luna llegó radiante a la tienda que compartía con Paula. Habían estado mirando las cuentas y la ropa esos días y habían llegado a la conclusión de que tenían que vender más ropa, y para vender más ropa, la necesitaban a medidas europeas y no americanas.

Los jerséis eran todos de colores vivos y vistosos. Hacia falta alguien con personalidad fuerte o de artista para ponerse esto, pero este no era el requerimiento más difícil. Lo más difícil era meter la cabeza por el cuello. Lo malo era que no bastaba la cabeza para dar el cuello de sí lo suficiente. Luna se puso uno de los jerséis y prefirió quitárselo rápidamente antes de ahogarse.

“Mira Paula. He tomado una decisión.”
Paula miró a Luna en silencio. Le gustaba poder escucharla sin interrumpirle y sin tener que hacer signos ni gruñidos que indicaran que estaba escuchando.
“Estoy preparando patrones y diseños para enviarlos a Bolivia porque los jerseys que nos mandan son imposibles de vender, yo tampoco me los pondría.”
Paula se acordó de una conversación que habían tenido meses antes sobre patrones y culturas y le deseó suerte. Antes de que pudiera seguir, Luna retomó el hilo:
“Ya sé que es su cultura. Pero estamos aquí para vender sus productos y que la gente los use, no para que los compre por caridad y los guarde en el armario a la espera de ser tirados después de un par de años de “quizás me lo ponga”.”
“A ver,” dijo Paula. “No es a mí a quien tienes que convencer. A mí me da igual. A otra gente no, y más o menos ya sabemos quienes son. Por otro lado, igual es más fácil traer cosas a través de la importadora andaluza. No sé por qué pero su ropa siempre parece más vendible. Se lo compramos a ellos y así no tenemos que andar con patrones a Bolivia?”
“A mí me hace ilusión hacer patrones.”
“A mí no, no se hacer patrones y no voy a aprender ahora. Ya paso bastante tiempo haciendo las cuentas en casa.”
“Eso es verdad.”

Se citaron para un miércoles, que eran los días normales de reuniones. También era día de partido.
Luna no quiso ir a la reunión. Quizás intuía cual iba a ser la decisión y no quiso estar presente. Paula presentó las cuentas ante la mirada atenta de todos los voluntarios de la junta, incluídos Jose, Ara y el cura. Las comparaciones con la anterior tienda, en la que había empezado Paula su voluntariado en el comercio justo, fueron inevitables.
“… aunque hayamos vendido mucho más que la tienda del año pasado.”
“Es verdad eso? Han vendido más?”
“Sí, mucho más.”
Días más tarde, Josu comentaría: “quien preguntó eso, no ha estado nunca ni en una tienda ni en otra.”
Pero ahora estaban tomando la decisión de si seguir luchando por la tienda que ya había bajado en ventas, aunque no tanto como habían esperado antes de las rebajas.
“Nos podéis decir exactamente qué necesitáis?”
“Pues después de hacer cuentas, hemos mirado, que para aguantar al menos un mes más, tendríamos que hacer un pedido grande de ropa a la otra cooperativa que compra grandes cantidades por comercio justo. Porque ahora la gente va a la tienda a por ropa, porque son las rebajas.”
“Pero esa otra organización no solo compran a Sudamérica”
“No, tendríamos que comprar también cosas de África y de Asia. Pero ellos lo traen todo, y nosotras le podemos hacer un pedido.”
“Y todo eso con que dinero?”
“Con lo que hemos sacado en navidad y que ha sobrado después de pagar la renta.”
Paula y luna no habían separado nada para su propio sueldo.
“Bueno nosotros habíamos quedado en que íbamos a traer cosas solo de Sudamérica”
Esa era la la primera noticia que tenía Paula sobre restricciones en cuanto a cosas que se podían comprar, pero así parecía haberlo decidido Salva. Pero ahora hablaba el contable:
“Parece que nos estáis pidiendo que tomemos una decisión. Y vosotras, que queréis hacer?”
“Nosotras queremos seguir, pero para seguir, hace falta gastar ese dinero en un pedido grande. O vamos a por todas o no vamos. y no queremos hacerlo sin vuestro apoyo así que si no estáis de acuerdo, mejor cerrar.”
“Pues sí. Yo creo que mejor cerrar.”
El que lo había dicho era Salva y era el cura en una reunión donde la mayoría eran cristianos, en su parroquia. Nadie le iba a llevar la contraria. Esa iba a ser la decisión y a Paula se le debió de partir un trocito de corazón porque se quedó sin poder articular más que monosílabos. Solo consiguió articular una frase completa cuando ya habían salido de la tienda-garaje. Jose y ella caminaban juntos el camino que tenían en común, rodeados de aficionados al fútbol que salían del estadio.
“Qué tal, qué piensas.”
“Intuíamos, o sabíamos, que la tienda no iba a durar mucho tiempo. Pero no imaginé que pasaría tan rápido.”