The affair with the shops was also complicated. Some of them were closed down when others were just being opened. In ?94, the stalls at the Exhibition were all closed down because those who had their wholesale store there moved their business to Europa when it opened. In one year they were all settled in Europa, and they had all left for Europa or Prisma, as it opened in ?95. It stayed in business until 1999. They started raising the rent, asking for a pledge sum of 500 dollars, to which you added the maintenance costs. At that point the expenditure was higher than the income.
At the beginning my stall at Prisma was very profitable. In ?95 and ?96 there were as many as five hundred cars in the parking lot at weekend, not to mention the people who arrived by special buses from downtown. The crowd was huge. The parking lot was virtually packed with vehicles! When they started asking for pledge money and demanded that we didn?t close our stalls, as each of them pursued his own interests? For instance, we weren?t allowed to close before 7 o?clock or leave the stall. Why on earth? If I knew that after five days I would have no more customers, why was I supposed to keep my stall open? Not to mention that the shop assistant, who was there from 9 to 7 pm, wanted to leave earlier on Sunday.
Our stall was at Prisma 1, but there were 800 other firms which wanted a stall there too. People paid huge bribes to get in and open a stall. If you did as little as closed the door or didn?t open the stall for one day, they would immediately give you a warning: next time we?ll kick you out! They checked on you every ten minutes! ?We will kick you out, you know, 800 hundred other firms are on the waiting list to get a stall here and you won?t be missed? ? Meanwhile, they had the brilliant idea of building Prisma 2. Once they had done that, they realized that people weren?t so eager to get in anymore. Firms began to move out also because Niro had just opened. Many left Prisma for Niro. When they finished building Prisma 2, they found that there weren?t 800 firms on the waiting list anymore. There were only 50 firms that had signed up for the opening. In three months Prisma 2 had become virtually empty and people started moving out their business from Prisma 1 too. The Mall opened next ? Prisma was too far away, in Baloteşti. It wasn?t profitable anymore. The Mall and Niro were closer. If you wanted a special kind of goods, you went to the Vitan Mall. In time, Prisma was forsaken. Nowadays, it is still in business but it?s empty. If you can count 20 cars in the parking lot, that must be a good day. There used to be five hundred of them ?
Translated by Alina Popescu