When moving to Gozo, one of our biggest concerns was how hard it would be to get stuff. By stuff I mean everything from mushrooms to office chairs to computer monitors. There are 27,000 people on Gozo, but, Rabat, the main city, apparently only has 7000.
We were dead wrong. There are dozens upon dozens of stores in Rabat. There are, for example, at least five different furniture stores, plus we found a carpenter who builds furniture. A lot of the stores seem to sell odd combinations of things–a lamp store also sells toasters–but you can get everything you need.
When I lived in Dublin, I was shocked by the number of travel agencies. The Irish love their sun holidays, and I guess they weren’t really booking online en masse yet.
In Gozo, there’s a similarly large number of real estate agencies. You can’t throw a dead rabbit braised in red wine sauce (one of the national dishes) without hitting a couple of letting and sales agencies.
The diversity of shops is, I think, due to an almost complete lack of franchises (there’s a couple of McDonalds, but that’s the only franchise I recognize) and plenty of owner-operators. Store owners stock what sells, and are happy to accomodate odd requests.
The only thing I may have to order from abroad is one of those little speaker units that you stick your iPod (Nano, in my case) into. I asked at a stereo (plus toys plus sporting goods) store, and they didn’t have any. Other than that, we’re able to get almost everything we need without even going to the main island.