During my first stay in Saint-Louis du Sénégal in 2013, the small shops on every street corner impressed me. In 2014, I returned with the intention to photograph these spaces. They are full to the brim with items necessary for survival. Those goods can be purchased in small quantities for a few West African CFA francs, for instance one egg or a handful of sugar or flour. Goods that would be considered luxurious in most European countries are rare, despite global brands pushing into this market. Fresh food is mostly sold on markets, the small shops deal in dry, canned or otherwise preserved food. Although the shops vary in size and shape, their spatial organisation reflects the possible interactions and trades. More often than not, physical barriers demonstrate the shopkeepers’ attitude toward customers. The style of these barriers ranges from an open counter to intimidating grills with a small opening. Both items for sale and their display provide visual clues about the city’s social environment.
In Europe and in many of the wealthier countries, the supermarket has all but pushed out the small local stores, either resulting in or caused by different urban structures and different interactions between people as consumers and as citizens.
It is not clear what has been gained and what has been lost in that transition.