Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The meat sellers of Bessarabbky Market now are using electronic scales. This might end the meat seller’s practice of routinely adjusting the simple balance scales to reflect heavier weights but I have enough respect for their skills to know that they will come up more skillful ways to cheat their customers. The entire purpose of Bessarabby Market is changing. Supermarkets are routinely under cutting the produce and meat sellers in terms of prices, supermarkets also much more convenient to shop at. Bessarabby has always featured a wide variety of produce the entire year round, this feature is also being undermined by supermarkets. The role that Bessarabby will move into will be part tourist attraction, part history lesson, and prime source of unique Ukrainian cooking supplies. There are few supermarkets where you can buy an entire head of a pig. This evolution will allow the market to function in a profitable manner. The charm of the meat ax will not disappear from central Kiev.

Monday, December 01, 2003

An economic barometer has recently opened in Kiev; the city now has a Hallmark card store. Everything sold in a Hallmark store is discretionary in nature; people will celebrate in grand style without these products. While gifts can be given without gift wrap and birthdays are celebrated without birthday cards, it is a sign of rising consumer spending when there is a demand for Hallmark products. The interesting aspect of Hallmark is that most of the goods in the store are low priced (from a Western viewpoint). While there are countless stores in Kiev selling high priced products that are discretionary in nature, this is the first store that focuses on low priced discretionary goods. I expect that these shops will expand in Kiev and through out the major cities of Ukraine. There are apparently numerous Hallmark stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The economy of Ukraine is still much in the shadows. Little signals and signs that indicate some economic direction are always useful.

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