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Pictures | Thu Oct 18, 2012 | 10:06pm IST

Dealing with austerity

<p>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</p>

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...more

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

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<p>A street vendor adjusts his products in front of a closed shop with a sale sign on it, at a street for pedestrians in Athens May 30, 2012.   REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis</p>

A street vendor adjusts his products in front of a closed shop with a sale sign on it, at a street for pedestrians in Athens May 30, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A street vendor adjusts his products in front of a closed shop with a sale sign on it, at a street for pedestrians in Athens May 30, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

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<p>Fernando Perez, 63, owner of the make-up store "Harpo", poses inside his business in Madrid October 4, 2012. Perez, who has been in the specialty make-up business for 40 years, told Reuters, "Instead of raising prices ... like other people think is best, I have lowered them. It's hard to continue selling if you raise prices."    REUTERS/Andrea Comas</p>

Fernando Perez, 63, owner of the make-up store "Harpo", poses inside his business in Madrid October 4, 2012. Perez, who has been in the specialty make-up business for 40 years, told Reuters, "Instead of raising prices ... like other people think is...more

Fernando Perez, 63, owner of the make-up store "Harpo", poses inside his business in Madrid October 4, 2012. Perez, who has been in the specialty make-up business for 40 years, told Reuters, "Instead of raising prices ... like other people think is best, I have lowered them. It's hard to continue selling if you raise prices." REUTERS/Andrea Comas

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<p>Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in the backyard of his restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Virgilio's daytime Italian cafe that becomes a bar at night allows him to share the costs with the other business owner. "I serve good quality food at an affordable price," he said. His advice to others in these difficult economic times: "Grow slowly and try and keep your start-up costs to a minimum."   REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton</p>

Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in the backyard of his restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Virgilio's daytime Italian cafe that becomes a bar at night allows him to share the costs with the...more

Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in the backyard of his restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Virgilio's daytime Italian cafe that becomes a bar at night allows him to share the costs with the other business owner. "I serve good quality food at an affordable price," he said. His advice to others in these difficult economic times: "Grow slowly and try and keep your start-up costs to a minimum." REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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<p>A man walks by a deserted shopping district in central Athens September 17, 2012.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

A man walks by a deserted shopping district in central Athens September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A man walks by a deserted shopping district in central Athens September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>Signs read "for rent" on the door of a historic clothes shop in a shopping district in central Athens September 18, 2012.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

Signs read "for rent" on the door of a historic clothes shop in a shopping district in central Athens September 18, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Signs read "for rent" on the door of a historic clothes shop in a shopping district in central Athens September 18, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>Padlocks are seen on the door of a closed shop in a shopping district in central Athens September 17, 2012.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

Padlocks are seen on the door of a closed shop in a shopping district in central Athens September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Padlocks are seen on the door of a closed shop in a shopping district in central Athens September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>A man begs for money in front of closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

A man begs for money in front of closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A man begs for money in front of closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>Undressed mannequins are seen in the shop window of a closed shop in central Athens October 3, 2012.    REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

Undressed mannequins are seen in the shop window of a closed shop in central Athens October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Undressed mannequins are seen in the shop window of a closed shop in central Athens October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>A man walks past closed shops which are covered in graffiti reading "closed for ever" in Athens May 4, 2012.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

A man walks past closed shops which are covered in graffiti reading "closed for ever" in Athens May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A man walks past closed shops which are covered in graffiti reading "closed for ever" in Athens May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in front of his office in Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. "My main concern is to serve my clients efficiently and to have ideas for new ones," said Lytsikas, whose grandfather started his leather supply business in 1870, making it one of the oldest businesses in Piraeus, a few miles west of Athens. "I have never had a loan."   REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis</p>

Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in front of his office in Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. "My main concern is to serve my clients efficiently and to have ideas for new ones," said Lytsikas, whose grandfather started his...more

Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in front of his office in Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. "My main concern is to serve my clients efficiently and to have ideas for new ones," said Lytsikas, whose grandfather started his leather supply business in 1870, making it one of the oldest businesses in Piraeus, a few miles west of Athens. "I have never had a loan." REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

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<p>Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office in Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012.   REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis</p>

Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office in Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office in Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

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<p>Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office at Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012.   REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis</p>

Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office at Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office at Piraeus port town near Athens September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

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<p>Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in his restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Virgilio's daytime Italian cafe that becomes a bar at night allows him to share the costs with the other business owner. "I serve good quality food at an affordable price," he said. His advice to others in these difficult economic times: "Grow slowly and try and keep your start-up costs to a minimum."   REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton</p>

Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in his restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Virgilio's daytime Italian cafe that becomes a bar at night allows him to share the costs with the other business...more

Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in his restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Virgilio's daytime Italian cafe that becomes a bar at night allows him to share the costs with the other business owner. "I serve good quality food at an affordable price," he said. His advice to others in these difficult economic times: "Grow slowly and try and keep your start-up costs to a minimum." REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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<p>A general view of the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Leandro Virgilio, 37, runs a daytime Italian cafe in Dublin that becomes a bar at night, allowing him to share the costs with the other business owner.    REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton</p>

A general view of the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Leandro Virgilio, 37, runs a daytime Italian cafe in Dublin that becomes a bar at night, allowing him to share...more

A general view of the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. Leandro Virgilio, 37, runs a daytime Italian cafe in Dublin that becomes a bar at night, allowing him to share the costs with the other business owner. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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<p>A man walks past the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012.  REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton</p>

A man walks past the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

A man walks past the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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<p>A woman cycles past the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012.  REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton</p>

A woman cycles past the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

A woman cycles past the "Coffee To Get Her" restaurant near Dublin city centre which becomes a bar and club in the evenings October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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<p>Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, works in his shop in Milan October 9, 2012. 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</p>

Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, works in his shop in Milan October 9, 2012. 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...more

Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, works in his shop in Milan October 9, 2012. 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

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<p>Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, poses in front of his shop in Milan October 9, 2012.  REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo</p>

Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, poses in front of his shop in Milan October 9, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, poses in front of his shop in Milan October 9, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

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<p>Pedro Paiva, 49, poses at the entrance of his shop the "Silver Stone" in Lisbon October 4, 2012. Paiva's store is situated between a bank and a clothes shop which have both closed down. Paiva, who opened his shop selling rock and roll merchandise on Lisbon's Rua da Prata in 1997, says: "You need to be creative and know what clients are looking for."   REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro</p>

Pedro Paiva, 49, poses at the entrance of his shop the "Silver Stone" in Lisbon October 4, 2012. Paiva's store is situated between a bank and a clothes shop which have both closed down. Paiva, who opened his shop selling rock and roll merchandise on...more

Pedro Paiva, 49, poses at the entrance of his shop the "Silver Stone" in Lisbon October 4, 2012. Paiva's store is situated between a bank and a clothes shop which have both closed down. Paiva, who opened his shop selling rock and roll merchandise on Lisbon's Rua da Prata in 1997, says: "You need to be creative and know what clients are looking for." REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

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<p>Pedro Paiva, 49, walks along the corridor of the building where he runs his shop in Lisbon October 4, 2012.  REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro</p>

Pedro Paiva, 49, walks along the corridor of the building where he runs his shop in Lisbon October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Pedro Paiva, 49, walks along the corridor of the building where he runs his shop in Lisbon October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

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<p>Pedro Paiva, 49, poses behind a counter at his store the "Silver Stone" in downtown Lisbon October 4, 2012.   REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro</p>

Pedro Paiva, 49, poses behind a counter at his store the "Silver Stone" in downtown Lisbon October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Pedro Paiva, 49, poses behind a counter at his store the "Silver Stone" in downtown Lisbon October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

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<p>Pedro Paiva, 49, shows his back patches for clothing at his shop, the "Silver Stone", in downtown Lisbon October 4, 2012.   REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro</p>

Pedro Paiva, 49, shows his back patches for clothing at his shop, the "Silver Stone", in downtown Lisbon October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Pedro Paiva, 49, shows his back patches for clothing at his shop, the "Silver Stone", in downtown Lisbon October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

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<p>People walk past the make-up store "Harpo" owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez in central Madrid October 4, 2012. Perez, who has been in the specialty make-up business for 40 years, told Reuters, "Instead of raising prices ... like other people think is best, I have lowered them. It's hard to continue selling if you raise prices."    REUTERS/Andrea Comas</p>

People walk past the make-up store "Harpo" owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez in central Madrid October 4, 2012. Perez, who has been in the specialty make-up business for 40 years, told Reuters, "Instead of raising prices ... like other people think...more

People walk past the make-up store "Harpo" owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez in central Madrid October 4, 2012. Perez, who has been in the specialty make-up business for 40 years, told Reuters, "Instead of raising prices ... like other people think is best, I have lowered them. It's hard to continue selling if you raise prices." REUTERS/Andrea Comas

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<p>A general view shows the inside of the make-up store "Harpo" owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez in Madrid October 4, 2012.   REUTERS/Andrea Comas</p>

A general view shows the inside of the make-up store "Harpo" owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez in Madrid October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

A general view shows the inside of the make-up store "Harpo" owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez in Madrid October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

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<p>Fernando Perez, 63, owner of the make-up store "Harpo", poses in front of his business in Madrid October 4, 2012.   REUTERS/Andrea Comas</p>

Fernando Perez, 63, owner of the make-up store "Harpo", poses in front of his business in Madrid October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

Fernando Perez, 63, owner of the make-up store "Harpo", poses in front of his business in Madrid October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

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<p>A lottery vendor stands outside a closed shop with a rental sign on it in Piraeus, west of Athens May 23, 2012.   REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis</p>

A lottery vendor stands outside a closed shop with a rental sign on it in Piraeus, west of Athens May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

A lottery vendor stands outside a closed shop with a rental sign on it in Piraeus, west of Athens May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

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<p>A woman walks past closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012.   REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

A woman walks past closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A woman walks past closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>A homeless man sleeps outside closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012.    REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

A homeless man sleeps outside closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A homeless man sleeps outside closed shops in central Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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<p>A sign reads "for rent" on the door of a closed shop in central Athens September 18, 2012.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>

A sign reads "for rent" on the door of a closed shop in central Athens September 18, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

A sign reads "for rent" on the door of a closed shop in central Athens September 18, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

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