Everyone needs a friendly neighbourhood store, even in the city. The only issue with Valletta is that such a thing is very hard to come by, nowadays. Most shops are geared towards tourists or short-term visitors, with the original community of Beltin (which is how those who are born and bred in Valletta refer to themselves) finding it increasingly difficult to access a common corner store.
Enter Genial Household Store, a traditional general needs store that has survived for these past 16 years. Located a few meters away from the Grandmaster’s Palace, you will recognise the store from its iconic, light blue facade. Beautifully maintained in wood, the name is painted in a whimsical font and the shop remains one of the core businesses in the city.
The owner, Sunny, runs the shop with a special sense of civic pride and is quite the local star, often featuring on local media platforms. If you’d like to snap a pic with him, he’ll be the first to go ‘cheese’ and to shine a smile. He’s always ready with an anecdote or two, especially involving the Genial, which actually used to be a tailor’s shop before Sunny took over.
Genial Household Store – a chequered history
A fun fact few people know – the shop was originally bought by Sunny’s daughter, who chose the name herself and was planning on running it as well. But fate had something else planned for the quirky shop, and the daughter decided to continue furthering her studies instead. The family suddenly realised they needed someone to take over. Sunny stepped in, and the rest is Valletta history.
Something that visitors find odd is that whenever they ask locals for directions, someone will inevitably reply ‘ah right, the shop with the black facade”. This is because before Sunny took over, the shop’s signage was entirely painted black. So distinctive was the style that older locals still refer to it that way. Sunny kept the exact same design, but opted for a more cheerful hue.