Ioannis A. Tzimblakis, the father of Antonis, opened this store back in 1938 and before that he was running a small grocery shop in his village, Damarionas. Back then small grocery shops in rural villages were selling humble and basic goods: bulk pasta, rice, coffee, sugar and spreadable grape cream (threpsini in Greek, a kind of jam made from raisin that made its appearance after the Second World War and was given to kids as a means of strengthening their immune system).
Reminiscent of the grocery shop in Naxos, kyr Antonis (kyr, (added before the name of an old men, is a way to salute or address him in a respectful manner, an informal word), born in 1931, says:
“I was born in a place where cheese was all around. Back then, my father used to carry cheese, oil and olives to Chora. Unlike nowadays when every cattle farmer has his own vehicle, back then cattle farmers didn’t even have their own donkey. Thus, merchants carried goods from the villages to Chora on their mules”.
Since then kyr Antonis has been forging sound relationships with people from villages all around Naxos and thus, the most peculiar cheeses on the island can be found in this store. The store is now run by his son who continues the family tradition. Nevertheless, Mr Antonis is there, present, day and night, escaping only during noon to get some rest.
Tzimblakis ’s store is paradise on earth for cooking aficionados. There you will find local produce, such as cheeses, a great variety of them, produced by Naxiot shepherds, olives, virgin olive oil, thyme honey, herbs and spices, local wines, raki, liqueur made from citron fruit, traditional spoon sweets, capper, dried pulses, nuts, etc.
If you are interested in useful old-fashioned objects and bric-a-brac, look no further. Here, you will find hand-made baskets, cheese draining baskets, twig brooms, ceramics, gourds, olive oil soaps, hang bread/meat safe cabinets (replaced with refrigerators) and even mouse traps, as well as many other hand-made items. Sometimes, you may also come across ointments with beeswax and olive oil and other homemade remedies.
Even if you are not interested in buying something (I am not sure whether it’s possible to resist), wander for a few minutes around the labyrinthine three levels of the store and dive into a bygone era, wouldn’t that be interesting?