Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi is the nearest big town from the Salla border crossing, and that’s where Kandalaksha and area people go shopping.  – In Russian 🙁 but very informative so I’m adding it here anyway.

The article on parking made thoroughly unpleasant reading to someone who has been enjoying Russian parking anarchy for nearly 20 years. Taking the camper there is out, and I’m thinking of hopping on the bus instead. Tire rules sound draconian too. While I’ve been reading about this life’s many hassles and complications, Alexandra has been enjoying a review of Rovaniemi flea markets. Too orderly to my taste. The one in Khimki somehow feels closer to the eidos of this sort of an establishment. I’m reproducing below the Khimki flea market story from May 2012, when we were getting rid of our junk.

Our flea market debut!

Related to
first Novopodrezkovo
report >>

6аSpend three hours at Novopodrezkovo in Khimki. Plus an hour getting there and over two back. The worse part was a giant jam on Novoskhkhodninskoye shosse on our way back because two nanoaccidents on the carousel by IKEA nearly blocked traffic for hours, the way it is usually done in this land where time is of no value and common sense non-existent.

Damn, why does a very positive report has to start with an episode that forces to check the Russian Misery category?!!

Same impression as from the first trip. Easy and relaxed. A welcomed break from Moscow all-pervasive glamour that’s enforced upon you no matter what. Try the Grabli (Rake) Cafe on Pyatnitskaya. And OK chain place, certainly not expensive, the sort of place to go to eat, not to impress yourself or others. But visit the washroom downstairs! The amount of expensive bronze there clashes, in a non-physical way of course, with the business that normally brings me there. I don’t want to see overdressed women, cars washed daily (fuck, see my project – drivers listed there mention daily wash as a selling point damn it), and government offices decorated in marble and complete with god damn founains! If you share this sentiment the flea market may be one of very few options where there is nothing glamorous in sight. A couple of Gypsy women selling lipstick don’t count.

Done with the rant. Back to the flea market story.

My first and overwhelming impression is how easy it all was. Drive or walk in without any ceremonies like getting a pass or going through a metal detector, find an empty spot in a huge field, lay out your things. Washrooms are there. Lower your standards and you’ll find them passable. Or do your business behind a concrete fence. A simple snack can be bought. No fees to pay, no applications to fill out. Now, as I ruminate yesterday’s experience, I realize that just how unusually easy it was to buy or sell at the market.

Second, it starts and ends real early. Be there by seven. By eleven buyers and sellers were starting to get too tired to do their thing energetically. By 1pm people were plodding around the field, and sellers very lazily packing.

Third, weekends that don’t clash with holidays are best. Yesterday, although a Saturday, wasn’t the best day.

Here is a list of what we sold, with prices, from about 30kg of miscellaneous clutter:

Netbook, working, real old – 700 roubles.

Lamps, simple, suitable for a dacha – 50.

Metal clippers – 50.

Pants – 30.

A crawling hand, a toy – 30.

Pocket ashtray – 42.

Wrist watch – 100.

3.5″ disk drive and a box of diskettes – 200.

A hand drawing – 100.

Digital camera, old but working – 200.

Mirror – 30.

Miscellaneous connecting wires – 50.

Children’s skis with boots – 300.

Cell phone, working – 100.

No hard bargaining. Actually none whatsoever. “Whatever you want to” is and OK answer to “How much”. Some would offer a price, always appropriate. No, none of my energy was expended on transacting with buyers. Or sellers. At the Vernisage in Izmailovo dealing with sellers is a drain of energy. At Preobrazhensky (see a report here) much less so, especially in the “Bomzh” section. None at Novopodrezkovo. None! Anybody who knows me enough will appreciate the meaning of “people didn’t drain me of energy” when it’s coming from me.

Oh, there was one episode that was more fun than unfriendly. An old man, on seeing my marketing efforts (I make labels that imitated those worn by sales clerks, and loudly praised my selection of products) called me “provokator” because I “manipulate consciousness” and moved away. Another man seemed actually scared by a shotgun cleaning rod that was among our things. Said that I can get 5-6 years for possessing it. No, even in Russia you won’t but his reaction reminded me just how deep and widespread and unreasonable fear is, especially among the oldies.

Finally, a few more photos with me as a seller. I felt in place as was told by our style consultant Alexandra that I look entirely natural in this environment, which provides fuel to my thought about career change…


That’s how our spot looked. Some electronics, clothing, skies, skates, tools…


This is me explaining how every human need can be met with what we offer. I did enough translating of marketing materials to some of the phrasing to get internalized. Lots of ready material for parody.


An illustration of the density of traffic. Truck driver behind bangs on the truck in front to make the latter move a few inches forward to make way for the one behind.


I liked it. Loved it. Certainly beats staring into computer trying to get business, cleaning up after apartment-renting travellers, or worse yet helping Russian bride seekers in pursuing their dream. That flea market experiment may be a start of a new career, much more palatable to my tastes.

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