Russia, August 12, 1999
You can buy ANYTHING in a Russian Kiosk!
|Ya want some magazines? Beer? Chips? CD's? Stereo?
Furniture? Airline tickets? Well you can get all that, and a whole lot more
shopping by kiosk in Moscow!
Due to the expense and immobility of opening a store, Moscow was invaded by kiosks when the country opened up to consumerism in the early 90's. Now, a few a few years of refinement, you can get everything from a kiosk!
Across the street from my apartment is a double kiosk, with one side serving draft beer (3 ruble discount if you being your own container), and a snack kiosk, stuffed with beer, chips, chocolate, pickles, sproti, and all manner of cigarettes. Unfortunately, they don't have Planters Cheese Balls there any more, so I stop by for the occasional Baltika instead.
Near my friend Matt's apartment, is a whole kiosk shopping mall, complete with kiosks selling fresh fruit, bread, hot dogs, ice cream, fresh cuts of meat, pirate CD's & movies, bras & panties, religious idols, Korean food, and my favorite, the kiosk selling whole grilled chickens for $2.50 a pop! Every time I go to his house, I do a bit of shopping on the way there, and arrive at his place with an entire meal, all for about $5, with the Baltika to match!
Last week, I went with my friend annE, to a furniture rinok to find her a coffee table, and there ware kiosks selling entire furniture and bathroom sets. Plastered on the inside of the glass were photos of the furniture prices and sets, that shoppers could look at, while a "sales assistant" waited patiently to take the order. A few days later, after a cash deposit paid to the kiosk, the furniture would arrive at the buyer's apartment, ready for installation.
I'm trying to think of something you can't buy at a kiosk, and all I can come up with is cars. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a car kiosk; I've just never shopped for one, so I wouldn't know.
The only problem with kiosk shopping is that each kiosk has only one tiny window where all the goods must be passed through. At first I found this a major inconvenience. I'm used to American kiosks, where the front is open to the customer. After a few months, I learned why those holes are so small. First, it's to prevent shoplifting that is rampant at US kiosks, and second, to protect the life of the kiosk worker.
I know that on several occasions, when I was a little frustrated by the Russia experience, that little window saved the life of the worker. See, with such a small window, you can only get one arm in there to try and choke the worker to death. It's kinda hard to do, and they have a better chance of braking your arm in the process. If the whole were bigger, I could've reached in there with both hands, grabber her by the neck and pulling her to the glass, choked the poor girl up close. So I could see her eyes bulge out of her head, and feel the frustration leaving me. Too bad. I'll have to remember to pack an ax the next time.