Secret Minsk: The Hidden Soviet Shop
This hidden shop with a strong nostalgic vibe is almost a museum. You won't find it on Instagram, but it will definitely leave you speechless. Here Soviet epoch shows its most elegant edges and you'll get a chance to get a truly meaningful souvenir.
"The shop of Wonders"
vulica Kaĺvaryjskaja, 1
These several wonder bars moved here some 1-2 years ago from the bookshop at Niamiha station, so many vintage hunters have lost their track. Now the shops are located at a Soviet epoch monumental building at Kaĺvaryjskaja, 1. Despite construction works nearby you won’t miss the place, because the very building is marked with a huge communist-themed red stone fresco. Such symbolism makes the wonders of bygone days even more captivating. Enter the building, turn to the right and then follow the corridor. On the left side, you'll find two doors, one is antiques and history showroom "Sovetsky” (Mon-Fri 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sat 11.30 a.m.– 4 p.m), the next one is “Lavka chudes” ("The Shop of Wonders", Mon-Sat 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.). Also, be sure to drop in the third shop on the second floor, “Art-vintage shop” (room 205-a, working hours – the same).
From the venue to the way everything’s arranged (or, better say, not arranged) the spot is not typical at all. It’s like a sporadic flea market, but well maintained at the same time. There are no certain categories and you can never tell what you’ll find one time or another. Some items may stand here forgotten for several months, and then be found by a savvy completist; other items are sold like hot cakes to aesthetics lovers.
The prices are really friendly. They start from 50 cents for a pin and up to some € 200-300 for big and exquisite pieces of art. But most of the best fall into € 10-40 price range. Moreover, here you may haggle over prices as they are typically not stated as the final ones and some objects don’t have tags at all.
There are no consultants or art-dealers, but owners are so competent and glow with enthusiasm so it won't be a problem to find something peculiar, get an estimation or advice.
By the way, the shops are also represented at the online auction ay.by.
Generally, the items are somehow arranged in categories, which are numberless. They start from cut glass and porcelain and stretch up to antique chandeliers, Soviet time figurines and medals and finish up with military gowns and ‘samovars'. Huge linens are dotted with old pins. Nearby you may find boxes with coins and medal, and, looking up, come across a line of really big cuckoo clocks. Near the window, a row of shelves is stuffed with figurines, retro toys, and vintage cups, while on the floor any vinyl lover may find a new record to fit in the collection. Bijoux hunters won't leave the place empty-handed. Two shelves hide small pack with brooches, rings, pendants, chains, and other random stuff.
The next room is more specific. The first thing you see is a soviet-corner, decorated with communist slogan banners for sale, military gowns, gun holsters, service caps, and a huge portrait of Lenin. If you look down you'll find a great collection of vintage photo cameras "Zenit”, “Elikon”, “Zorki” etc. Also, the room hides such marvels as soviet Christmas balls that every Soviet-raised one remembers. The shop is probably the only place where you may buy those very trendy and adorable decoration pieces.
Another popular highlight is retro wrist watches, all working well and looking perfect. Opposite the watches shelf, there is a great one with Lenin busts and fine figurines, breathing with Soviet ideals and breakthroughs. Other two shop offer even more – pieces of art, drawings, small sculptures and glass works. We can go on and on, but it’s better to see once than to read twice.
Photos by @geezine