June 28, 2017

Shopping

Kyiv’s shopping climate is rapidly changing. Modern European-style stores, malls, and mega-malls are quickly replacing the Soviet monoliths that once dominated the shopping landscape. Prices for western goods, however, are generally higher than in the USA. Cheaper Eastern European or Turkish goods populate local markets and open-air bazaars. If you are in need of something specific, ask a local. Ukrainians usually know how to bargain shop much better than Americans.

English Books
There are several sources for English reading material in Kyiv. The UEC has several thousand volumes in English--from literature to religion. The British Council maintains a book and video library available for a fee. Kyiv Mohyla Academy maintains the American Library (formerly America House administered by the US Information Agency) close to the British Council (near Kontraktova Ploshad metro). There are numerous restrictions for using both of these libraries. A growing English bookstore called Dinternal, located just off European Square across from Dynamo Stadium, has a good selection. Metrograd, the underground shopping plaza under the downtown Kreshatik Street is home to The Globe, a closet-size outlet of Dinternal. Most everyone speaks English there. Probably the largest English-language collection in the city is the store Bukva near the red building of Kyiv State University (Universitet metro). English books are on the first floor and wind around in catacomb-like fashion. Expect to pay the same as in the USA. The Baboon Cafe near Universitet metro has both new and used English books. Petrivka book market (Petrivka metro)—the chaos that it is—is home to many English books, quantity and quality questionable.

Souvenirs
The best place for souvenir shopping, and really the only place worth mentioning, is the historic Andriivsky Spusk. A pleasant stroll in the shadow of the gorgeous St. Andrew’s Church, you can find all kinds of everything “touristy” available for purchase. Many of the table vendors take special orders; don’t be afraid to ask. Many of them also speak English pretty well, and will openly call to you to choose their selection over others because they will make you a “special deal.” Don’t be afraid to bargain. NEVER pay the first price they ask; it is always negotiable. If you buy more than one item from one vendor, bargain even more for a quantity discount. These booths specialize in all sorts of traditional Ukrainian merchandise, such as martryoshka (nesting dolls) and large furry “ear-flap hats.” A vast array of T-shirts, having everything from a map of Kyiv to Lenin’s face on them, futbol jerseys and scarves of the local Dynamo team, wooden carvings, chess sets, art prints, and a whole host of other items litter the half-mile walk down the hill. There are many extremely delightful handmade items and just funny souvenirs and the prices are much cheaper than you would pay in a souvenir shop in downtown Kyiv.

Clothes, misc.
There are many places to buy clothes and other accessories in Kyiv. Metrograd, a sprawling labyrinth under Kreshatik, offers a myriad of booths and shops of all sorts. The only difficulty arises in trying to figure out where you are and where you need to go to find the particular store you want. Globus, on the other end of Kreshatik, is a more western type of mall, with western prices. Familiar names such as Columbia, Timberland, Clinique, Hallmark, and Diesel all have stores in Kyiv, amidst several other upscale clothing, electronic, and various merchandise stores. Also, in between these two “malls” on Kreshatik is a Soviet legacy in the form of TSUM, which was the only “mall,” the veritable Wal-Mart during Soviet times. Every large Soviet city had one of these sprawling complexes downtown. You can find just about anything you want in Kyiv, especially household items, such as silverware, or smaller electronics like alarm clocks or watches. Besides these downtown places, there are numerous bazaars throughout the city, some open air and some enclosed. Merchandise is much cheaper, in price and construction sometimes, and prices are negotiable. However, spotted foreigners will probably be charged a premium for their ignorance, so it is advisable to go to one of these establishments with a Ukrainian.

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