Business owners, Teresa Gamero Verdugo, Gillian Douglas and Guada Floriano.:: G. P
One small area of Torremolinos has seen a considerable rise in women-run businesses
Almost consistently since the late 1960s, Torremolinos has been southern Spain’s most popular holiday destination for both international and domestic holidaymakers to the region.
In addition, for several decades this once less-than-affluent fishing village has also been one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations for the international and domestic LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community.
Arguably, one of the primary reasons Torremolinos has retained its enduring popularity with this community is that a relatively high proportion of the municipality’s diverse and vibrant businesses are either owned by gay people, orientated towards the LGBT market, or actively marketed as ‘gay friendly’.
Traditionally, the majority of these, especially those within the hospitality sector such as bars, restaurants and nightclubs, have catered more for gay men than others. But things, it would seem, are changing.
“There’s something of a shift taking place; there are definitely more and more businesses run by women opening in Torremolinos,” explains Scottish-born Gill Douglas, co-owner of a popular bar in the Pueblo Blanco area of the town centre.
“Until fairly recently most of the bars, cafés and restaurants were run by men for a mainly male clientele. That’s certainly changing, even since we opened 18 months ago. Today, there are more than 15 businesses owned by women in and around Pueblo Blanco, which is, I believe, the ‘epicentre’ of this gentle evolution.”
It is a view echoed by Teresa Gamero Verdugo, who runs a busy ‘tetería’ (traditional tea shop and bar) also located in Pueblo Blanco, a pretty Andalusian-village-esque square, complete with window boxes bursting with geraniums and a decorative fountain.
She says: “It’s not just the growing number of women-owned bars and cafés here in this area, there are shops and boutiques, and other kinds of firms too. All the business owners get along well, we’re all doing something a little different from each other and there’s a noticeable ‘good feeling’ amongst us all. There’s an inclusive sisterhood.”
She continues: “There’s an exciting dynamic of development taking place, which is very positive for everyone - for the business owners, the visitors who come here, the local residents, and for the town more generally.
“The clientele who come to this neighbourhood is completely mixed - younger and older, gay and straight, Spanish and international… and this relaxed, trouble-free atmosphere in itself is bringing more and more people to the area, plus of course there’s the beautiful location too!”
It was this location that first attracted Cristina Domínguez and Lorena Domínguez to open a restaurant in this small Torremolinos district, situated near the town’s National Police station. “When we saw it we were immediately captivated by its charm - reminiscent of that of a typical village in the ‘sierras’ - that we decided to take on the business here.”
So, why are an increasing number of women deciding to launch businesses now?
Teresa opines: “I think that it comes down to the fact that women, particularly Spanish women, are becoming more and more independent and certainly more enterprise-minded than they ever have been.”
While Gill adds: “It is also probably a combination of a growing recognition of both women and gay rights.”
Laughing, she tells SUR in English: “I described the shift that’s taking place here as a ‘gentle evolution’ because one of Torremolinos’ first gay bars, which opened 40 years ago, was owned - and still is - by a woman. It’s taken some time but finally, it seems that, to quote that song, the ‘sisters are doing it for themselves’!”