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In Pictures: European businesses struggle with austerity

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A lottery vendor stands outside a closed shop with a rental sign on it in Piraeus, west of Athens May 23, 2012. Thousands of small shops and businesses have closed up over the past few years of Europe's economic downturn, especially in the so-called “PIIGS” countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

YORGOS KARAHALIS/Reuters

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A man walks by a deserted shopping district in central Athens Sept, 17, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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Undressed mannequins are seen in the shop window of a closed shop in central Athens Oct. 3, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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Cobbler Vincesco Scofano, 63, poses in front of his shop in Milan Oct. 9, 2012. Among the shuttered businesses, many remain open, and they credit their survival to sticking to the basics: focusing on customers and quality, staying flexible and looking for creative solutions, keeping prices reasonable and – perhaps most important of all – avoiding taking out loans.

ALESSANDRO GAROFALO/REUTERS

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Mr. Scofano works in his shop. He expanded the store’s business beyond shoe repair to making slippers and belts and even doing small tailoring jobs. “We changed to stay in business,” he said.

ALESSANDRO GAROFALO/REUTERS

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A man walks past closed shops covered in graffiti reading “closed for ever” in Athens May 4, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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A street vendor adjusts his products in front of a closed shop with a sale sign on it, in a pedestrian-only street in Athens May 30, 2012.

YORGOS KARAHALIS/Reuters

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Leather supplier Yorgos Lytsikas, 72, poses in front of his office in the port town of Piraeus near Athens Sept. 21, 2012.

YORGOS KARAHALIS/Reuters

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Mr. Lytsikas, 72, poses in his office. “My main concern is to serve my clients efficiently and to have ideas for new ones,” said Mr. Lytsikas, whose grandfather started his leather supply business in 1870, making it one of the oldest businesses in Piraeus, a few miles west of Athens. “I have never had a loan.”

YORGOS KARAHALIS/Reuters

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A man walks past the Coffee To Get Her restaurant near Dublin’s city centre Oct. 8, 2012. The restaurant becomes a bar and club in the evenings.

CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

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Leandro Virgilio, 37, poses in the backyard of his restaurant, a daytime cafe that becomes a bar at night, which allows him to share the costs with the other business owner.

CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

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“I serve good quality food at an affordable price," said Mr. Virgilio. His advice to others in these difficult economic times: “Grow slowly and try and keep your start-up costs to a minimum.”

CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS

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Pedro Paiva, 49, displays his back patches for clothing at his shop, the Silver Stone, in downtown Lisbon Oct. 4, 2012. Mr. Paiva’s store is between a bank and a clothes shop that have both closed.

JOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/REUTERS

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Mr. Paiva, who opened his shop selling rock and roll merchandise on Lisbon’s Rua da Prata in 1997, says: “You need to be creative and know what clients are looking for.”

JOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/REUTERS

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A homeless man sleeps outside closed shops in central Athens Sept. 13, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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People walk past the makeup store Harpo. owned by 63-year-old Fernando Perez, in central Madrid Oct. 4, 2012.

ANDREA COMAS/REUTERS

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Mr. Perez, who has been in the specialty makeup business for 40 years, poses inside his store. “Instead of raising prices ... like other people think is best, I have lowered them. It’s hard to continue selling if you raise prices,” he said.

ANDREA COMAS/REUTERS

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A woman walks past closed shops in central Athens Sept. 13, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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A sign reads “for rent” on the door of a closed shop in central Athens Sept. 18, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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A man begs for money in front of closed shops in central Athens Sept. 13, 2012.

YANNIS BEHRAKIS/Reuters

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