The last ten years I’ve been a witness to the brutal “super-marketisation” of the whole of Estonia. Big supermarket chains like Maxima, Rimi and Selver strangle and absorb all small local cellar shops, bakeries, groceries, street markets etc. However, I remember times when it was all different in the 90s and we had a wild small business and street kiosks’ based economy.
In Tallinn you can still see some of the remains of that “wild capitalism” era – less and less, unfortunately, and definitely not in Old Town – mostly in sleepy suburban areas like Lasnamäe and Mustamäe. I am talking about multi-functional street kiosks spread out usually around public transport stops, where you can get all sorts of necessities like drinks and snacks, penknives, fake plastic toy guns, ambered orthodox icons, cheap medicaments produced in Russia and even pregnancy tests. And all in one place!
In most of these kinds of kiosks you may meet an old-school style Russian-speaking-only woman, who will sum up the price for you on her mini calculator and quickly close the window right in front of your nose without redundant “thank-yous” and “goodbyes”. Classic!