Dotted about the cities and towns of Greece are tiny little cubicle-like boxes known as ‘periptero’. They’re one of the simple little touches that make everyday life a bit easier. Come to think of it, they’re almost as much a part of the fabric of Greece as the tavern or ouzo. Essentially they’re a kiosk or mini supermarket where you can purchase magazines, newspapers, cigarettes, chips, cold drinks, chocolates, gifts like postcards, key rings and small trinkets, or maps to help you find your way around town. A lot of them also stock bus and train tickets. Pretty much all the essentials are crammed into these boxes and hanging on stands around the perimeter.
In the big cities they’re occasionally open 24 hours a day and year round. The characters you find working inside vary from the gruff types that are less talkative, to charismatic folks that are happy to give some travel advice or chat about politics. Actually, it’s best to avoid the latter of those two topics as you’ll likely find yourself in a passionate debate that could last for hours!
Now, despite their diminutive size these simple businesses contribute a decent amount to the Greek economy. It’s estimated that the average periptero can turn over 1,500 Euro a day, with the busiest of them seeing four times that amount coming through the window. They were created after the war to provide employment for returning servicemen, however today the licensing extends a little further to support others in need. That said, with the economic downturn and an increase of low-cost supermarkets, many of these once thriving businesses are closing down. So next time you need a snack or beverage, pop into your nearest periptero and grab your goods from a local. You’ll probably end up walking away with some tips on the best sites to visit and a bit of gossip too!