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Title: Back in fashion: new life on Ledra Street since checkpoint opening - (2008-06-11)

Back in fashion: new life on Ledra Street since checkpoint opening

LEDRA STREET has been open for almost two months now ever since April 3 and the shop owners of the area have mixed feelings over the result of the historical opening.

A lot has been said on how the opening will bring change and profit to the forgotten area of old Nicosia and many have called it a breath of fresh air. So how do people working in Ledra Street feel several weeks into the opening?

Katerina , a souvenir shop owner in Ledra Street has not seen any change to her business, but she is happy just to see the area rejuvenated.

“For me, nothing has changed. I work with my regular customers, there are more people of course walking through Ledra Street but none of them are here to shop, it’s mostly window shopping, but it’s good to see people back in this street”, she told the Mail.

“Well, it’s not as I had expected,” admitted, Pola, a lace shop owner in Ledra Street.

“I see many Greek Cypriots crossing the checkpoint and coming back with bags of shopping from the north – they even buy bread from there!”

Jewellery store owner Andreas was, if anything worried about losing trade: “Nothing has really changed for me; I feel that there are more people from our side going to the other side because jewellery is thought to be cheaper there. I’m not saying that the opening of the street was a bad idea, but it hasn’t really made a difference to me,” he said.

But some people have seen a change in their business, and the opening has had an immediate and positive impact on them,

“I have a lot of new customers ever since the opening of Ledra Street. I have made new regular customers from the north who come and buy many dresses and jewellery,” an ethnic shop owner told the Mail.

“Business has gone up,” echoed a restaurant owner. “There are many tourists and many Turkish Cypriots coming. I have had to put extra tables on the pavement to accommodate my customers.”

Michalis, an ice cream parlour owner on Ledra Street, says “the opening brought a lot of people to the area. It is packed with people, especially on weekends, and it can get so busy I’ve had to hire extra staff.”

Stelios, a 37-year-old shop owner, had a smile on his face: “I have never been to the north myself but I have plenty of Turkish Cypriots coming into my shop and buying stuff. I mean we have had many Turkish Cypriots since the checkpoints opened in 2003 but then, just like the Greek Cypriots, they lost interest in old Nicosia and made their way to more modern streets.

“However, now that Ledra is open, there are many Cypriots – Greek and Turkish – on a daily basis walking up and down the street. We are back in fashion.”

Theodoros, a clothes shop owner, believes that “restaurants, coffee-shops and ice-cream parlours have benefited a lot from the opening whereas clothes shop owners have not seen a drastic change because people who come to Ledra are more interested in sitting down or walking around rather than shopping for clothes.”

However, change or no change, no one yesterday would underestimate the symbolism of the opening, a bridge that came down to bridge communications between two communities in the hope of a reunited island. Some people may still moan, but they are not as angry and negative as they were before. No one yesterday condemned the opening, an opening that has brought change to in everyone in the area, even if they do not realise it.


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