the tiny shop is wall to wall weaving..
While many welcome the long-awaited construction
of Yerevan's North Avenue, progress is coming
with an unpleasant price for at least one family
business at the heart of Abovian street.
As around them only walls of former businesses
are standing, the Hayrapetyan family's Threads
boutique is holding on and holding out.
Since 1994, the Hayrapetyans have made their
little shop a virtual museum of knitting, using
skills handed down through three generations of
mothers and daughters. The quaint stone room has
become popular among locals and tourists.
Now, developers have been offering the family
$5,000 for its eight-square-meter store on the
capital's main avenue of commerce.
What may be the Hayrapetyans' final rejection
came last week and, depending on a court decision
that could come as early as next week, Threads
could be gone within a matter of days. Developers
have applied to court to have the shop demolished.
More than simple sentimentality is at the heart
of the family's refusal to move. They say the
city's offer of compensation is unrealistic, and
have hired an attorney to defend against he developer's
The attorney, Arman Zrvandyan, says the money
offered the Hayrapetyans is not enough to buy
a similar size property in the suburbs - to say
nothing of the fact that its current location
is a prime retail spot.
"It is a right of the proprietor not to
agree with an offer," says Zrvandyan. "We
demand that either the Hayrapetyans are provided
with a territory on one of Yerevan's central streets
to continue their business, or they're paid enough
compensation to buy that territory."
quaint shop's days on Abovian street are
Manya Hayrapetyan says the family isn't trying
to stand in the way of urban development, but
neither is it willing to be taken advantage of.
"Being patriotic, we surely understand the
importance of the construction that is done here,
but why does it have to be done by causing us
damage," she says. "This is not only
real estate, but also a business which provides
about 20 Armenian women with jobs."
Manya Hayrapetyan says her family has already
suffered from the North Avenue project, as its
26 square-meter apartment was torn down because
it was in the way of construction. The family
was paid $7,200, but claim that some with smaller
apartments received more.
"It is painful, that residents having smaller
territory appealed and received twice more money,"
Manya says. "This time we won't let our rights
At best, the Hayrapetyans might be lucky enough
to make it through the holiday selling season.
Papagallo, a clothing store - separated from Threads
by an already-vacated carpet shop - has been given
until January 1 to get out.
Meanwhile, as Threads and Papagallo are fighting
for their roofs, behind them several houses of
old Yerevan await the knock on the door and the
demand of development.
Robert Aghajanyan, 59, owns one of the houses
"When we look at the destruction around
us it seems that there's a rope around our necks,"
he says. "But you don't know if they'll push
the chair you're standing on or will cut the rope."