Kiosks of Neapoli….
The Story of the Greek Kiosk (Periptero)
Anyone who has visited Greece will be familiar with the
Periptero, the Greek equivalent of the kiosk. Virtually every city,
town and village has a Periptero and Neapoli is no exception.
As you walk around Neapoli, you will come across three; one is
opposite the Silk garage, the second is at the end of the main
junction into town, next to the BP garage and our regular kiosk
is run by Manos and Maria at the top of the square.
Unfortunately they are on the verge of disappearing (the
reasons why are discussed later). Here follows a little bit of
history about this much cherished Greek tradition.
Way back in 1911, the first Periptero opened on Panepistimiou
Street in Athens. It seems likely that it would still be in business
today, if the ground beneath it hadn’t collapsed and swallowed
it wholesale in 1997, during the construction of the Athens
underground system. Luckily the lady who was working in the
kiosk got out in the nick of time.
In the past the kiosks were given by the state to war veterans
without a pension, disabled people or families with many
children as state support. Because they were the owner’s
property, they could be passed down through the family.
The size of a kiosk is regulated by law to be no bigger than 1.3
by 1.5 metres, has three windows and a door at the back for
access. These little boxes sell newspapers, magazines,
cigarettes (traditionally one of the few places you could buy
tobacco products), snacks, prepaid phone cards, toys and small
gadgets. Around the kiosk are big refrigerators and freezers,
where customers can find drinks and ice cream. They are
usually open for long hours, well into the night and some even
The kiosk is more than just a tiny convenience store. It is the
focal point of the neighbourhood. The owner (the peripteras) is
a hive of information, knows everyone and all the latest gossip
and he or she will provide directions to places. Anyone looking
for a job will often approach the peripteras in case he or she
has heard of any vacancies. In the past, when people didn’t
have phones, it was also the place where you could make a
A few years ago, there were approximately 17,500 kiosks in all
of Greece; now there are about 9,000. Of course, like a lot of
other businesses, they were hit hard by the economic crisis.
Some of the items that the kiosk sells were to be found in the
local supermarket at a cheaper price. Newspapers are
becoming a thing of the past since people are now reading the
latest news online. There were 1,080 kiosks in Athens and
nearly half of these have closed down. 300 kiosks have been
abandoned and local councils are slowly removing them from
the streets. Crete is no exception and periptero owners are
seeing their profits decrease on a daily basis, resulting in the
closure of many. The Association of Kiosk Owners in Crete
estimate that 80% have closed in the last decade and the future
for the rest is not guaranteed.
Those periptero owners who have survived the recession were
recently dealt a devastating blow by the government when a
new law was passed. This stipulates that once the owner dies
or the license for the kiosk expires, it cannot be renewed and
transferred, as it was in the past, to the next generation. Sadly
this means that many more kiosks will disappear in the not too
distant future. As if this wasn’t enough, the bill also included
another measure, which allows tobacco products to be sold in
other shops. This bill is the nail in the coffin for this beloved