Wednesday, 14 October 2009
This place, the electronics market at Savyolovskaya/савёловская , as one of my colleagues put it quite factually "a bit mental'. You come out of the metro (on the grey line, just beyond the ring) and find yourself in an extremely brightly lit and narrow corridor with one electronics shop after another on either side which, I swear, is about three-quarters of a mile long. And that is just the beginning of a huge maze of stalls offering stuff to buy.
It certainly challenged my assumptions about what you can buy in Moscow and the high prices of everything imported. It is true that there are odd things that are hard to find for no particular reason - like particular sorts of batteries and blutack for example - but here there were more contemporary electronics than you would ever need, and which didn't seem more expensive than Europe (although I got mainly obsessed by 1.) Digital SLR cameras and 2.) iPod accessories so I can only speak for those particular products). It felt like Tokyo, not Moscow.
It did make me think about how I interpret conspicuous consumption here. Of course in London and the UK shops do that fully-glazed/please come in/look at all our goods and are focused in high streets and hypermarkets. Moscow is more like other European countries, where shops are often surprisingly hard to identity - not just because of language, but also because doors are often shut, windows no different from offices, and location not always obvious. And, increasingly, I am finding places like Dmitrovskaya. Huge areas which are half-way between a market and a department store. Huge being the operative word.