Businesses in the suburb of Sant Pere de Reus bet on Christmas lights to attract customers

Breaking with the barrier of the 'centre of Reus' and allowing people to walk beyond the Llovera-Monterols axis. In short: revitalize the Tomb de Ravals. This is the objective of merchants and the City Council. So far this year, they have opened four new businesses in the suburbs of Robuster and Sant Pere. They have done so within the framework of the 'Reus Espais Vius' project, promoted by the Department of Business and Employment. Eight more are about to do so. And now, businesses in the area want to contribute their grain of sand with the placement of Christmas lights, after almost ten years without doing so. "It is a way of collaborating in revitalization," argues Míriam Sánchez, in charge of the Rockillos store.

She was the promoter of the initiative in the suburb of Sant Pere. «I have been here for five years and, in that time, there have never been Christmas lights in this area. They only put ornaments on the trees and the City Council takes care of this », she recalls. Josep Mestres, from the Butan Reus store, details that they stopped doing it at least seven or eight years ago: "We had to 'pursue' the rest of the shops too much to be able to organize it and, in the end, we gave up."

Now, that the council is precisely working on the revitalization of empty premises in this area, “I thought it was a good time. Thus, the shops also contribute to this revitalization”, exclaims Sánchez. It began to move in August, "I asked the City Council how we had to do it, I spoke with all the businesses in the suburb and it has moved on."

The lights are already in place and today at 7:00 p.m. they will be turned on, along with the rest of the ornamental lighting in the city. The streets illuminated at the initiative of commercial establishments are twenty. The cost is 70% subsidized by the City Council (150,000 euros). In addition, the council is in charge of lighting the Mercadal, Prim and Llibertat squares, and the lighting of the trees in the Tomb de Ravals and in the neighborhoods (423,100 euros). "I don't know if having Christmas lights will have an effect, but at least they invite you to take a walk," they comment from La Duquesa Cupcake, in the suburb of Sant Pere. This is one of the businesses that collaborates in the initiative "and in total we are a fortnight", says Míriam Sánchez.

As reported by the establishments in the area, the great challenge is to ensure that the Tomb de Ravals is seen as a walking area. «The tendency, instead, is to stay in what is strictly the center», as if the suburbs were a barrier.

Francesca, who runs La Duquesa Cupcake pastry shop, remembers that "there was a moment when I was practically alone on this stretch of street." Without going any further, a year ago there were about 25 stores closed in the suburbs of Robuster and Sant Pere. Little by little, through 'Reus Espais Vius', some have been occupied by new entrepreneurs. "In my pocket, I don't notice it, but at least I have neighbors," jokes Francesca, who believes that "this is very good for the area." For Josep Mestres, from Butan Reus, it is also good news that new establishments are opening because "it gives us more visibility."

Right next to the pastry shop there is one of the entrepreneurs who has chosen to locate her business in the suburb. This is Cristina Gómez, who opened Fer Safareig, a restored furniture store, at the beginning of the year. «People already tell me, that this suburb is very dull. But for now I'm doing fine. What works, after all, is word of mouth. A lot of people come to the store through recommendations », she explains. In addition, she complements the sale of furniture that she herself recovers and gives it a new look, with a restaurant service and workshops. "I do not participate with the Christmas lighting, but because the business will be closed on those dates," explains Gómez, who at the same time values ​​the initiative positively.

Despite the high number of blinds still accumulated in this area, businesses function well for those that have been open for years. In the case of Rockillos, which is an alternative clothing store for music groups, designed for all ages, Míriam Sánchez points out that its uniqueness is what attracts customers. "Since it's something very specific and there isn't a similar store in the area, people come," he says. This is also the case at La Duquesa Cupcake, where “customers come expressly”. But they want to go further and make the suburbs a walking area again.

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