The Lord of the Shop-windows – Gospodar izloga
Jaka Primorac (text and pictures), Zagreb
Once upon a time a friend of mine from Warsaw was telling me a story about a short man with a long beard who used to sell weird plastic figurines in the center of Warsaw. I was surprised about this story because I knew of a short man with a long beard who sells weird plastic figurines in the center of Zagreb. And, as you might guess – it was the same man, whose name is Jacek, and they call him Hobbit.
Jacek started selling plastic figurines a few years ago. They are quite attractive to watch: you throw one plastic man on the shop window and he is falling down it grabbing the glass surface with his small silicone hands. Despite the attractiveness of these nice figurines – the times for Jacek in Warsaw were rather difficult – the competition was high; on every other corner in the Old Town there was a figurine/blinking light seller, juggler, singer… So he decided to move away from his competition, go away from Warsaw, go South….
This is how one weekend a few years ago Jacek went hitchhiking to visit a friend of his who lived in Croatia, and so he brought few figurines with him. At that time in Zagreb there was nobody selling silicone men gliding on the glass surface, to be more exact, the entertainment offer on the streets of Zagreb was rather poor; the only entertainers were Bolivian musicians on the main square, the old violin player in the Ilica street, and a gipsy kid playing accordion on Jurisiceva street. In these conditions Jacek was an instant hit among children from the age of 2 to 92. The price of 10 kuna (around 5 zloty) per homo plasticus was not high, and Jacek started earning some money well enough even for polish standards. In summer the situation was even better – he and his juggler friends would go to the Adriatic coast and while his friends were juggling he was throwing men on shop-windows. Their multicolor fluorescent bodies would glide on the glass surface shining in the warm summer night…
He said he never had big problems as a street seller in Croatia – only once in a town by the seaside the police made him pay a fine, which amounted to 10% of his daily income, so he did not protest. During the years, Jacek learnt some Croatian, and due to his hobbit appearance, he became quite a ‘star’ of the streets of Zagreb. He is proud of this ‘star’ status in Croatia – a weekly journal Feral Tribune published a story about him some time ago.
Last time I saw him he said that it is difficult for him to stay away in Zagreb – now he has a daughter in Warsaw so he doesn’t want to be away from her. Maybe he started to sell figurines in Wawa again – tell me if you spot him in Stare Miasto.