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Athens' Most Peculiar Kiosks

peripteraAs anyone who has ever visited Greece will know, a kiosk, or the locals like to call it, “periptero,” can be found on every street corner of any island, small village or big city. They are an essential part of everyday life, selling everything from cigarettes, snacks, beverages, batteries, chocolates, newspapers and magazines to tourist souvenirs, jewelry and even traditional Greek clothes.
Walking through the streets of Athens, one will notice many peculiar and unique kiosks that don’t fit the stereotype, offering not only the necessary or humdrum items you might expect to find in a convenience store, but also quite a few other non-necessities and downright peculiarities.
Exarcheia Square boasts three kiosks, one of which sells fanzines, mostly political in nature. Until the early 00s, when fanzines fans grew up and stopped reading such material, the kiosk used to operate as an unofficial independent press center, with dozens of fanzines covering all manner of niche musical interests. But beyond bubblegum and pop, its fanzine shelves also made it a beacon to those interested in Greek-Serbian relations, citizen committees or even the Italian counter-revolution. These independent political publications cost from 1.50 to 10 euros and can be found just next to the croissants and potato chips. Konstantina, an employee at the kiosk, says new editions regularly prove popular among young people.
A real eye-catcher of a kiosk stands proudly in bright blue on Perikleous Street, its roof bedecked with with colorful stars. The owner, Mirela, believes that the secret of success for any kind of business is to be polite and always have a clean and well-stocked shop. When she bought the kiosk 18 months ago, she brought her own personal style to the business and made a statement by painting it blue, breaking with the norm in Greece, where kiosks are usually yellow. “Who said that the kiosks are not open to artistic interpretation?” she challenged.
Meanwhile, hipsters who forgot his/her long-johns and anyone else feeling the chill a little more than usual these days should head to Varvakeios market – the kiosk next door sells warm woollen underpants for the sum of 10 euros. Giorgos, the owner, says that each kiosk must adapt to its location – for example, near Acropolis they usually sell souvenirs, whereas near cemeteries you’ll find candle kiosks. Being situated near the market, Giorgos chose to sell woollen underpants for those who work with chilled produce in fridges all day, pointing out his matching range of undershirts at eight euros apiece.
Of course, while kiosks are infamous for selling goods perhaps of dubious quality, the people who run them often have the best insight into local life. Right outside the metro station at Panepistimiou Street, you’ll find a stall bulging with replica jewelry and cheap accessories costing from 1 to 3 euros. If, of an evening, you are not in a hurry, don’t forget to chat with Petros, who is to be there from 6pm to 2am each night, reminiscing about the old times and every detail about how downtown Athens used to be.

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