I also wonder how anyone in Italy makes a buck. Rome is filled with small shops that apparently provide one small good or service–in my neighborhood alone, there are at least 3 competing herbalists (besides 3 or 4 farmacie), 2 guys who sell stuff for remodeling your bathroom, 4 tire stores or auto repair shops (each in a space no bigger than my living room at home), at least 4 small dry cleaners, 3 barbers, 3 hair dressers for women, a furniture restorer, a guy who sells wood and tile for floors, a different guy who sells only paint, a guy who does hand-painting on china (at least I think that’s what he does), and a dozen other small businesses. In fact, from my limited experience here, Rome seems to have far more small shopkeepers (i.e., small entrepreneurs) than Chicago. And I don’t see how any of the proprietors can make enough to keep his doors open.
And I wonder how so many used book stores survive in the expensive districts of central Paris. I also wonder why Italy has so many stores for fancy underwear, and why so many Italians conduct their arguments out in the street.