ATHENS — Greece's economy may be in crisis but entrepreneurial salesmen who supply goods for protests are enjoying a brief boom, thanks to the endless series of demonstrations that have taken over Athens in recent weeks.
At a pro-EU rally, Jimmy Soutaous, a portly middle-aged flag salesman was delighted by the turn of events. Recently he'd struggled to shift goods from his stall. But last week's large pro-EU protest involving over 10,000 of Greeks had brought wealthier than usual protesters into central Athens, many of whom were willing to pay for public symbols of their allegiance.
"Sales much better," Soutaous told BuzzFeed News. "Twenty European Union flags, thirty Greek flags! The best sales in the last year!"
Soutaous, who said he is struggling to pay his family's bills, explained he is pinning his financial hopes on a surge in demand for Greek and European Union flags if people rally in the square following Sunday's vote.
"After the referendum could be even better," he said optimistically, looking at his unsold stock.
A typical purchaser is Yiannis Raftopoulos, who supports a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum. "I support Europe, I support Greece remaining in the eurozone and in Europe," he said. "The arguments from the other side are not very strong, they don't know they know what's after voting No. It's not clear, the referendum is a trap. The real question is Greece in or out of Europe."
To make his point, he paid €3 for an EU flag at a previous demonstration, which he had brought back and was waving with pride.
Protests also need noise and in Athens salesman roam through the crowds, ripping up packets of children's whistles and hawking individual items to protesters.
One teenage protester ran through the crowd blowing his whistle. "Just one euro," he said delightedly.
Meanwhile, when Greek protesters go on marches through the streets they are often followed by hot dog stalls, ensuring the army never has to march on an empty stomach, with a selection of hot dogs and corn-on-the cobs.
It might not be much, but it's something, with cash withdrawals largely frozen and no sign of a new bailout deal. Greeks will go to the polls on Sunday to vote whether or not to accept the terms of a new EU deal.
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at email@example.com.
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