Thursday, September 02, 2004


Are you in Spain? Is a 1 Euro coin burning a hole in your pocket? Does your pulse quicken at the thought of owning a wicker napkin holder? Or a nylon, mini-backpack embossed with a Japanese cartoon character whose sex or species you can’t quite decipher? If so, then I have just the place for you: a 100 Peseta Store!

100 Peseta Stores are Spain’s equivalent of the US’s anything-for-a-buck shops. They are little mom and pop establishments that stock a wide assortment of items, the majority of which cost – not surprizingly – 100 pesetas; or 60 cents when converted to Euros. Merchandise ranges from essentials like mop heads and batteries, to “luxury” goods like wine glasses and decorative candle holders, to kitschy delights like incense burners and penis-shaped plastic key chains.

I’m not joking about the latter item. The 100 Peseta Store here in Cabanillas del Campo has two such key chains dangling proudly next to its cash register. They’ve been dangling there for months. I don’t know the reason for their low turnover. It could be that there’s no demand for key chains of this sort; at least, not for those that don’t vibrate. Or it could be that the woman behind the register simply refuses to part with them. Retail can, after all, be a lonely business. But let’s get back to the point.

I’m a big fan of 100 Peseta Stores. I can’t pass one without popping in for a gander. And apparently I’m not alone, because you’ll find one in nearly every town in Spain that has a population greater than 7, and in nearly every neighborhood in larger cities. Sure, much of what they sell are low-quality, off-brand, knick-knacks, but let’s not be snobbish. Browsing through a 100 Peseta Store is a great way to kill fifteen minutes; and a liver-friendly one at that. At the same time, it’s a painless way to scratch that compulsive buying itch that so frequently strikes.

Think of it this way. If you are hungry, you can satisfy the need just as effectively by spending 1€ at McDonald’s as you would by dropping 100€ at Arzak . Admittedly, your choice in this regard says a lot about whether you’re likely to ever see the inside of Buckingham Palace, but that’s beside the point.

The same logic applies to 100 Peseta Stores. If you are suddenly stricken with a compulsion to buy something – anything! – while walking down the street one afternoon, then wouldn’t it be better to blow 1€ on a smiling Buddha paper weight than 100€ on a pair of red, spaghetti-string sandals? My wife doesn’t think so, but I do.

If any of this sounds appealing, then start probing between the couch cushions for loose change because I’m going to tell you where to find the Holy Grail of 100 Peseta Stores. Ready? It is called “HIPERQIU” and is located at calle Fernán González, 31 in Madrid. This store is run by a Chinese family, and is densely packed with just about every item produced since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Every item, that is, except red, spaghetti-string sandals.


At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to say that besides in "HIPERQIU" you find those items you were looking for desperately for days! One example:
1. María got a pack of 40 pieces of giant similar "Lego" construction blocks for Inés. I wanted the similar toy for the great visits of our nieta at home. Not in "Chicco", not in "El Corte Inglés", not in any place. Suddenly after kilometers of walking and frustration I recalled "HIPERQIU". There, and cheaper. Inés and I enjoyed alot.

At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Guerra Sisters, two american ladies visiting Spain came with a real big luggage. Coming back home they need more suitcases. They found superking size samsonite style pieces for less than 10 Euros per unit. Where? In "HIPERQIU".

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

That's a good point. But what you probably don't know is that we bought Ines at Hyperqiu as well.


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