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Even as bookstores struggle to make ends meet financially, they enjoy broad social support from their neighbors, who see them as adding to the character of neighborhoods and providing an opportunity for conspicuous local consumption. Having a beautiful space to work with certainly doesn't hurt, either. So when Romanian bookstore chain Carturesti was offered a space in a historical bank building, they jumped at the opportunity.

The bank in Bucharest's Old Town has a rich history with some interesting intersections with communist rule. The building was owned by Greek banker Zannis Chrissoveloni in the late 19th century and was eventually passed down to his son Nicky, who steered it through the post-World War I boom years. When the Chrissoveloni bank was nationalized in 1960 by the Communists, the Chrissoveloni family fled to Greece. For the entire Communist era, the space was a men's clothing store.

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