- The charming brick-and-mortar stores of Uusikaupunki are currently preparing for the most important season of the year. The boutiques hope for frequent customer visits towards the year-end to ensure the continuation of their diverse services in the city.
The night before, a soft, fluffy first snow had fallen on the town. The main street is getting adorned with the last of the Christmas lights, brick-and-mortar shops are opening their doors, and merchants are sweeping snow from the front of their stores.
The morning in Uusikaupunki, preparing for the Christmas season, is like a fairy tale.
Kirsti Ajanko, the owner of the Vihreä Lammas boutique, is also busy with her Christmas preparations. When the store is closed early in the week, she focuses on making more items for sale in her workshop next to the shop.
‘At the moment, I am working on different colored slippers, mittens, and wine coolers made of sheepskin,’ she says, standing by a large work table.
She became a craftsman by chance over a decade ago when she moved to Uusikaupunki and considered what work to pursue. Her father, who was a furrier, was in his last years of work and agreed to take Kirsti as an apprentice.
Thus began Vihreä Lammas. Initially, the business focused on selling sheepskin products made by Kirsti herself, but gradually the product range expanded. Now the shop is filled with the aroma of nearly seventy loose leaf teas, bulk coffee, and sweets.
‘Traditionally, loose coffee and tea have been sold in Uusikaupunki, and there’s still demand for them. I also started selling different tea and coffee pots,’ Kirsti explains. ‘Especially, the tea selection grows as customers request specific types of tea. I always try to fulfill these requests.’
The service-mindedness of the merchants is often highlighted, for example, in the annual Uusikaupunki tourist survey. The merchants themselves hope that customers will come in boldly to ask for products or services – most of the time, needs can be met in one way or another in their own city.
Entrepreneurs willingly work together. If something is not available in their own inventory, they refer customers to another local boutique that might have the desired product.
‘And if a product is not immediately in stock, it can be ordered. These opportunities are definitely worth using. Things often go very smoothly here in this small town; you hardly ever have to sweat in queues, and the service is always cheerful,’ says Kirsti.
She also highlights the diversity of the city’s small shops. Within a few hundred meters, you can find everything from electrical supplies to sports equipment, fabrics and yarns, children’s and adult’s clothing, jewelry, eyeglasses, home decor items, books and binoculars, household appliances, shoes, and thrift stores.
‘I can hardly think of anything I wouldn’t find in my own city. Uusikaupunki has an unusually wide range of small shops and services for a small city. Of course, the hope is that this will continue in the future.’
On the threshold of the Christmas season, the selection in these atmospheric boutiques is at its best. When the city’s award-winning Christmas lights are turned on on the last Sunday of November, hopefully, a month-long bustle begins in the brick-and-mortar stores.
See you at the Christmas shopping!”