Dealing with austerity


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Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, poses in front of his shop in Milan October 9, 2012. Thousands of small shops and businesses have closed up over the past few years of Europe's economic downturn, especially in the so-called ''PIIGS'' countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Among the shuttered businesses, many remain open, and they credit their survival to sticking to the basics: focusing on customers and quality, staying flexible and looking for creative solutions, keeping prices reasonable and - perhaps most important of all - avoiding taking out loans. Scofano, who owns the Rinnova shop, expanded the store's business beyond shoe repair to making slippers and belts and even doing small tailoring jobs. ''We changed to stay in business,'' he said. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo