Minerva papelería in Calle Velázquez was founded by Jaime Mut in 1939 and it's Palma's oldest stationery store. Jaime Mut left the business to his employee Nati Narbona, who ran it until 2013, which is when María José Noguera took over.
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated a number of small businesses in Palma and left many more on the brink of bankruptcy and now Minerva is really struggling.
"Everything started to get worse when Casa Roca closed down,” says María José. “In addition to the shop they had three warehouses full of stock that was put into liquidation and because they were items that don’t expire, so people bought a lot of stuff,” she adds. “Then we had six months of roadworks in the street with dust and deafening noise and finally, the coronavirus pandemic. Right now takings are down 80%.”
Minerva is one of the last places left where you can find classic old articles and books and classmates from when María José Noguera was studying a Bachelor's degree at San José Obrero often drop in to the shop because they love looking through the stock she has from way back when.
“Pepa's cutouts are still a huge success and we’ve patented some of them,” says María José. “A lot of customers also come here to buy onion and manila paper and figurines to play with or for decoration if they’re big.
María José has been branching out and keeping busy with a number of new projects.
“My pencil drawings, which are signed Margot have done really well and I’m also writing a story about the history of Minerva, which I think will be finished in a couple of months,” she says.
María José has already published seven books on a wide variety of topics, including Mallorca’s brothels, cooking and healers.
This is an extremely difficult time for María José who is doing all she can to stay afloat and says she hopes the Government will do its bit to help traders.
“I'm fighting to stay, but these are very complicated times,” she admits. “All that I would ask is to have a year without paying taxes to help us to recover a little.”