For years there were klek shops in almost every street of Sofia. The miniature convenience stores cater “to the cigarette fix of the passing pedestrian or the midday thirst of those waiting on bus stops” and seem to sell the right stuff for which people have no objection to stooping to street level, explains visual artist Ivaylo Getov, who made a great photo series about the klek shops. Nevertheless, the characteristic shops are disappearing slowly with the time. I guess some of them will remain open, simply because they’ve turned into a tourist attraction that tells a lively story about Bulgaria’s shift from communism to capitalism.
Apart from their historical relevance, the klek shops are an impressive example of bottom-up urbanism. It’s the kind of bottom-up urbanism that’s driven by honest economic motives. After the collapse of communism the Bulgarians simply had to take care of themselves, so many of them took the chance to sell stuff from their basement windows.
Check out this great collection of photos of klek shops throughout Sofia if you want to see more.