Today's youth revive traditional trades

The city's commercial network is a dynamic reality that evolves at the pace of modern times. In this highly varied patchwork, initiatives are emerging by young people wishing to revive traditional trades or create new services and products. These projects are committed to values such as sustainability and a love of the land. At the same time, they are capable of meeting customers' needs with a touch of originality.

Who says traditional trades are incompatible with young people? In Barcelona, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Below, we will discover the secrets of a craft glassmaker, a 100-year old trade that has adapted to modern times, a vegan fashion store and an art confectionery workshop.

Glass specialists

Ferran Collado represents the fourth generation of a glassmaking company located in the neighbourhood of Sants, which has a strong industrial tradition. Vidres Collado is a family-owned company that works with craft glass and attains exclusive pieces for large perfume, cava, furniture and lighting companies.

Its form of innovation is to work in practically the same way as in 1920, when Ferran's great-great-grandfather set up the company. The only difference is that some materials have evolved technologically, such as glues and abrasives.

The strong point of Vidres Collado is its specialisation. “We can do whatever we want with glass because we know the material and everyone is specialised in a particular area: blowing, working with flat glass, mirrors, cutting...,” explains Ferran Collado. The only thing that possibly concerns him a little is the training: “It is a difficult trade. There are no schools and the knowledge has to be passed down through the family”, he states.

‘Online’ binoculars

Another emblematic business in Barcelona that blew out its 90 birthday candles in 2016 is Raig. For 86 years, this shop specialising in telescopes and binoculars was located in the city centre on the corner of  C/Pelai and La Rambla, providing service to enthusiasts of sky gazing, a popular and traditional hobby in Catalonia. From one day to the next, however, it disappeared, and just when everyone thought that the shop had closed its doors forever, it turned out that the third generation of the family-owned business, the Serra brothers, had moved Raig to nearby C/ Consell de Cent.

Apart from products for stargazing, Raig has also been selling meteorological instruments for decades, another traditional hobby in Catalonia, such as magnifying glasses, binoculars, compasses, microscopes and more, with up to 2000 products for observing and measuring.

According to Carlos Serra, current co-owner, the strong point of this business is, “the product differentiation and the customer service”. The generational relay and the change in location has opened up a new era for Raig. In the shop in C/ Pelai, a lot of tourists and passers-by came in to shop, but this does not happen in the new store. As a result, the new bosses are investing to gain ground in the online world and rank highly on Google. It is not an easy challenge, but in the words of Tsiolkovski, used when celebrating the establishment's 90th anniversary: “What's impossible today will be possible tomorrow”.

Vegan fashion

Amapola, a clothes store located in the Vila de Gràcia neighbourhood, also offers high-quality products. The difference is, however, that none of the products used have exploited animals: veganism applied to clothes and footwear. Therefore, the products are not made with leather, wool, feathers or silk. “Nowadays, there is technology available to make footwear and bags with alternative top quality materials and, in addition, in a sustainable way”, reflects Raquel Passola, promoter of the store.

The store serves a growing sector of the population that has an ever-increasing interest in sustainable products. This innovation is guided by ethics, which also makes Amapola something more than a shop.

Unique sweets

Lastly, let's take a look at products with a shorter life, sweets, such as those produced by thesugar crafting company Çukor. They do not use eggs or flour, but they obtain unique sweets that are nothing like industrial products. Sweets for enjoying as a special, short-lived treat. The project was also supposed to be short-lived: it was started up as a pop-up store (stores that have an expiry date that rent a store to sell their creations in for a few days), but the initiative's success meant that it became permanent and moved from the Gràcia neighbourhood to its own store in the Gòtic neighbourhood.

Çukor was created with the only aim being for its founders Péter Nagy, Jabier Poveda and Manuel Abraham to have a fun time and to try out confectionery recipes that they had tasted on their travels. Very quickly, however, they went from having a workshop where they produced their sweets to selling a large variety of products, holding open workshops for families and adults and creating customised confectionery and more.

“Knowing how to use resources well and making the most of what you and your friends do well ” are some of the keys to the commercial success of Çukor, according to Nagy. If there is one thing that this Hungarian residing in Barcelona has learnt, it is that a shop is not just a place for selling, but also a 'human and emotional' space”. Now, the creators of Çukor are confident that soon the project will be economically consolidated so that they can go back to spending time materialising the new ideas that they have in their heads.

Craft confectionery, vegan clothes, traditional meteorological instruments or unique glassmaking are some of the products that young traders in Barcelona are offering their clientele, a variety that demonstrates that the city's commercial network is more alive than ever.