Buying buttons in Barcelona

Merceria_santa_anaOn our way to the City History Museum of Barcelona in the old town, I was able to convince my husband to pop our heads into Merceria Santa Ana to check out a more traditional Spanish craft shop.

We didn’t get very far into the shop before we came across the button counter on the first floor. It quickly dawned on me that I might as well check their stock for something that might work for the Firebirds cardigan.

Many of the buttons were attached to cards that sit in bins on the counter sorted by type/color. There were also stacks of boxes with buttons behind the counter.

Barcelona_buttonLike every late Saturday afternoon, this place (and any other store on this busy pedestrian street) was very busy.  I sifted thorough the cards as quickly as possible, hoping my husbands patience wouldn’t run thin. While they had a really good selection of buttons and several claps, it was soon apparent that finding what I had in mind in a short period of time could be difficult. I finally settled on some buttons that seemed to fit the bill; ones with a dark metal tone.

Since my husband speaks fluent Spanish I had him do the talking.  Apparently, these buttons were not in the boxes behind the counter but had to be delivered from the stock room. As we waited for the buttons to arrive, one of the clerks working in the back room spilled what sounded like a full cannister of buttons on the ground. It got everyone’s attention including many of the clerks in the area who came to her aid. We all watched as many hands helped clean up the spill.

After what seemed like an eternity, my buttons arrived but the alert clerk noticed that they were the wrong color. He then placed another order with the backroom for the correct ones. As we waited for the second delivery, the place seemed to get even more busy with people starting a queue for the next clerk. Finally the long sought after buttons arrived and the clerk handed a hand written ticket to my husband, mentioning that we had to now pay the cashier and collect the buttons with the receipt. This confused my husband until I reminded him of the time we went shopping in Paris at a similar store. Apparently, it was the same system. You to tell a clerk what you want, they get it, write a ticket, you take the ticket to the casher to pay and then you collect the purchase with a receipt from the cashier.

By the time we got the buttons, I was no longer interested in checking out their yarn selection. Normally such experiences wouldn’t frustrate me but I felt bad about dragging my husband into the shop and then not making it to the museum in time before it closed.

Seattle_buttonNot leaving well enough alone, this weekend I went to a few yarn stores here to check out what they had. None had as good a selection as Merceria Santa Ana. I really wanted some clasps but all seemed to either be too big or made in shiny silver. I did however find an alternative.
Don’t tell my husband, but I think I’ll use the ones I found today.

8 thoughts on “Buying buttons in Barcelona

  1. I really like both button styles and I think either one. How fun – buttons from Barcelona!
    I called the yarn store in Seattle about the Woolcraft book and the guy I talked to acted like there was no way they would have something like that…..he is checking and calling back and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get a copy 🙂

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  2. Those buttons are gorgeous!
    I had problems buying yarn in an Italian shop. I don’t speak Italian and it was all hand waving and bumbling about (on my part – they stared at me blankly). It takes some of the fun out of the shopping.

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  3. Some weeks ago, I was in the Merceria Santa Ana too – thanks goodness without my boyfriend. Inside it was very busy too, although it was thursday. I went upstairs to the yarn selection, but couldn’t enter it. There was a sign saying “only for big saler” and I didn’t could get the attention of on of the clerks to get further informations. So I left the shop a bit dissapointed. The next day I give “persones llanes” a try and in this yarnshop, they were very friendly – and I was the only customer!
    Greetings from Germany
    Andrea

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  4. The buttons are for Firebirds. Still haven’t decided which ones though. I figured that I could use either set for one project or another.
    Rebecca in Co. – glad to hear you got a copy of Woolcraft. Marina probably won’t be my next project but it’s good to have the pattern if and when I decide to do it.
    Andrea – Late Saturday morning I went to Persones Llannes and bought lots of Shetland lace weight yarn. I’ll be posting about it soon. We got talking with the owners (one is American and the other Catalonian) and they mentioned that they’re trying to create an alternative to traditional yarn stores, where it’s hard for the customers to tought the goods. Looks like they’re also very involved with Barcelona Knits, a group of knitters that meet in public places.

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  5. A few years ago I was in the same shop. I did get to go upstairs and the ladies were all sitting around knitting. I showed them my knitting and tried talking to them in my terrible Spanish….but I don’t think they were very impressed…..
    I bought beads downstairs…and 2 fabulous lace long sleeved undershirts. More like chemises…..not a bad store at all:)

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