11.8.2014 Music for the masses Let’s start with the bad news. It seems that the legendary record shop Epe’s is arriving to an end after serving its customers for more than 40 years. The shop has been reduced to an internet service and even there they’re having a final sale. The premises in which the store used to be have been turned into a pick up station from where you can get your records ordered from the net page. They serve on fridays 12-17. It’s a bit of a shame, but I actually started to wait for the slow decline already in 2010 when Record shop X rented most of the premises that used to be Epe’s.
Record shop X has been steadily growing ever since its opening. This is due to the quite extensive variety of genres and records at the shop. There is pretty much something for everyone. There isn’t any obvious genre that is most present, there are many metres of shelves of every genre. When asked how it is like to keep a record shop in Tampere, they told me that Tampere is quite an easy going place for a music shop. New arrivals and different genres are usually welcomed with an interest, especially when the students return to the city. Vinyls have been an increasing part of the products for the last few years. Even this is not in any way dependant on the genre, everything seems to be selling more and more in vinyl format. In fact in such a scale these days that more of the sales come from vinyls rather than CDs. There has been talk about how the sales of CDs have been declining since the launch of Spotify, so I decided to ask how it has affected the shop. According to the shop the sales have not been too much affected, the big difference is that nowadays most people know better what they’re looking for and there is no more need to have a possibility to pre-listen records in the shop itself.
Swamp music in Tuomiokirkonkatu on the other hand tells me that CD is still the more selling format compared to vinyls. However vinyls are steadily increasing their share of the sales. Swamp music is slightly more concentrated on metal and more alternative music than X. Even the atmosphere in Swamp is a bit darker. That doesn’t mean it’s in any way hostile though. On the contrary, the customer service is great and if there is time it’s always possible to have a nice little chat with the shopkeepers. And this is probably one of the many reasons why it’s so very difficult to keep all your money while visiting there.
There is also a possibility to buy tickets for the events that are available via Tiketti in Swamp music. This is the part that has shown there how the ways to listen to music are changing. Here in Tampere there are some sort of musical events almost every weekend, and on the weekdays as well. And in summer time it seems to increase even more. Spotify has not affected too much on the sales in Swamp either, customers seem to be mostly a bit older though. This does not mean that youngsters don’t listen to music. At least if we’re judging on ticket sales. Record store day brought a spike on the customers in Swamp music. This seems to be an event that stirs interest in people, because there are some specialties available. The idea is much respected in stores, since it is an increasing element on the sales. Just round the corner there is Second Hand Swamp Music, in which people can buy and sell used records. They tell me that the focus is on metal and hard rock classics because they’re the sort of records that people come there to look for. No genres are shut out, but due to lack of space and the demand they have to decline up to 50% of the offered records. On Itsenäisyydenkatu there are two records shops, Sammakka-Pop and Aikakone. Even though they’re both concentrated on older music and vinyls, threre are enough differences to prevent them from eating each others’ bread. Sammakka-Pop is mainly concentrated on psyche-rock, punk and old school heavy rock. They also sell record players, which makes them very different from other record stores. And they have the only record washing service in Tampere. In their collection there are Finnish punk on c-cassettes and self-published music magazines, which are asked regularly.
Their neighbour Aikakone moved there only two months ago from Kyttälänkatu in which the store has been for 17 years already. Aikakone is more concentrated on 50s, 60s and 70s rock and roots-music and old schlager. This limitation is due to the shopkeepers own musical tastes, since it is an honour for him to be able to tell his customers about the music he’s selling. It definitely is good to know the product you’re selling. In Aikakone they sell used vinyls, which are thoroughly checked before they are put on the stalls. This way the customer can trust the record to be working correctly. The change in the way people nowadays listen to music has been noted in Aikakone as well. In the 70s, when the radio was the only media offering music, there was no way to listen just for one song regularly if you didn’t buy the whole record. Nowadays you can go on the internet and listen for the whole record without buying it. Despite this change it seems especially that the vinyls are appreciated among collectors and they consider the listening of a record a ritual that requires more concentration and is more intense than just a noise in the background.
On my way back to the office I stopped at Kyttälän Voima. The shop was so well camouflaged that I had to look twice to notice it properly. Kyttälän Voima is located in the same spot as where Voltti-records used to be and it is actually the heir of the late Voltti. The concentration is now less on the electronic music than it was before, there is more rock now. The customers seem to be more collectors than DJ’s, or DJ’s turned to collectors. Many of the customers moved along from Voltti to Kyttälän Voima. Mostly Kyttälän Voima sells new vinyls, but other formats and used records are also available. And in addition pretty much everything else as well, starting from clothes and ending in swimming fish lures. The shopkeeper told me that Kyttälän Voima can be considered a general store with a focus on records. The parking fees in Tampere seem to be a bit of a problem for small shops in the city centre. The parking is expensive, especially in sector 1, which forces the customers usually further away and the shops are not as easily noted. And on the east side of the centre the sector 1 goes pretty far from Hämeenkatu. So is the case in Kyttälän Voima as well. This tour ended up in my loss of money, again. I accidentally bought the new record Blown Away from Finnish alternative pop duo Sin Cos Tan. Everything that Jori Hulkkonen touches is gold. Then I had to wait to see them play live at the Flow Festival on the weekend.
12.8.2014 Vintage – for you and your house Nowadays it is practically impossible to talk about style and interior design without mentioning vintage. Vintage and retro seem to be the talk of hour in decoration as well as in clothing. It is also possible to create completely new things out of old ones. In Tampere you can find many sorts of shops to help you start your new hobby, such as flea markets and recycling centres. If you’re after furniture you need to leave the city centre. Large things require more space, and that is getting scarce in the middle of the city. The closest place to the centre to find second hand furniture is in Tammela on Itsenäisyydenkatu. There you can find the Salvation Army Flea Market. They have two floors of which the lower is completely owned to furniture. On the top floor you can find dishes, clothes and some smaller things you need at home. Similarly functioning is the flea market of Pirkanmaa Lost & Found, there you can find stuff that no one claims back from the Lost & Found but also a lot of things that people are selling themselves. There is also a large area in the back in which there is furniture for sale.
Recycling centres usually have more furniture available than flea markets. This is due to their location a bit further from the centre. The closest one is on Vihiojantie in Nekala, about 4 kilometres from the Central Square, that takes about 15 minutes by bike. But it is worth the travel, since most of the furniture is in good condition, since they don’t accept broken or too dirty furniture for sale. And going by bike is indeed an option, since you can get home delivery for the furniture you buy. And it isn’t even too expensive. The other recycling centres are located in Lielahti and Hervanta, both are about 8 kilometres from the centre. But it is entirely possible to get to both by bike, since the routes are in quite a good shape. The thing many people are especially looking for in flea markets are old, good condition dishes. Mostly Iittala and Arabia, but also Pentik is getting more popular. For some people anything retro is old enough. I myself have one retro set including six glasses and a pitcher. Awhile ago I found one similar set, but lighter blue. And apparently I have my paws on something really expensive. I’m not gonna sell it though, because the set was inherited from my late grandfather. Sentimental value, you see. And it is beautiful as well.
When talking about vintage, the first thing most people think about, are clothes, which are the top product in almost any flea market. But the truth is, you need to be really good at searching if you wish to find something. The quality is, in a word, inconsistent. Anyway, the most popular (and also the largest) flea markets near the Central Square are Bonus-kirppis in Tammela and Radio-kirppis in Laukontori. Then there are the options that give their profits to charity, in addition to the Salvation Army, there are for example UFF and Fida that also send some of the products straight abroad for the needing.
There are also shops that concentrate on quality vintage, which they buy from people and sell again to customers. There is a concentration of these shops in Tammela. Only a few hundred yards apart you can find Kätkö, Yesterday and Kaunotar ja Kulkuri. Kaunotar ja Kulkuri is the most basic of the shops, since they buy and sell good quality vintage clothing. In Yesterday you can also rent a vintage costume if the need isn’t for a long time. Kätkö has a larger variety of goods, since they sell also furniture and decorations from past decades.
Many things you find from a flea market are not exactly what you were looking for. Then you can wake up your creativity and tune the garb into a new shape. You can use pearls, seashells, flowers, or if you desire more attitude, metallic decorations. It is also possible to take several items and turn them into a brand new one. Or maybe you can take away the parts you don’t want. You can also tune a new life into furniture. Polishing a table is a harder job than tuning a dress, but entirely possible. I’ve even heard of projects in which someone has taken an old school table and tuning it into use for their kid at home. You can always expect artistic ideas when visiting flea markets. Only the imagination is the limit.
19.8.2014 Le Grande Bookstore Adventure While visiting the various bookstores in Tampere, you can’t escape the feeling that every university student in the city probably praises the existence of Akateeminen kirjakauppa (Academic bookstore), which as you can guess by the name, has quite an extensive selection of books required in any sort of academic studies. You can find books both in Finnish and English, but also in Swedish, French and German. Akateeminen in Tampere has been evacuated into the dark corners of Stockmann because of the construction of P-Hämppi and the renovation of Stockmann itself. Because of this, the presence of some books in the store has been diminished a bit. Luckily you can order most books from other stores, whether its fact or fiction you’re looking for. Suomalainen kirjakauppa has three stores in Tampere. Two of them are located on Hämeenkatu and the last in Koskikeskus. Suomalainen kirjakauppa offers also quite a wide variety of materials for hobby crafts, such as materials for painting, making simple jewellery and so on. Most of the books on their, as well as Akateeminens, shelves consentrate on best sellers, so if you’re after something completely different you probably need to head to more underground stores. Bookstore Tulenkantajat is owned by two independent publishers Sanasato and Savukeidas. Tulenkantajat arranges regularly book publishing events, discussions and poetry performances. There are available cultural magazines, books from independent publishers, comics and books about food and travelling. In the same property is the art gallery Koppelo in which the exhibition varies monthly. The bookstore is also decorated by memorabilia from classical writers. And you can relax on the sofas and read the books or magazines in your own time. Sometimes you might be looking for books that have been sold out of edition.
Then you should head for second hand bookstores. In antiquarian bookshops you can find books that have been long since sold out from other bookstores. This requires time and patience, since the books in antiquarians are not in any special order, you’re lucky if the books are arranged by the genre. It is really easy to spend many hours in antiquarians searching for treasures in the middle of bookshelves. Compared to other vintage and second hand there are surprisingly few antiquarians in Tampere. There are three active antiquarians in the city centre area in Tampere: Lukulaari, Makedonia and Ensipainos. Of course, if you’re good at searching, you can find books in any flea market. But truth be told, it’s easier to look for books in the middle of books than in the middle of clothes.
The most popular antiquarian in Tampere seems to be Lukulaari on Puutarhakatu. Lukulaari seems to be in the favour of customers as well, the reviews of the service are basically praising. Even though Lukulaari is quite small, you can find there lots and lots of books of many genres and also comics, dvd-movies and vinyls. And most in good condition. Lukulaari uses Facebook to inform customers of the new arrivals and events. The shop smells of old books and old times and while adventuring in between the shelves you can bump into very interesting books.
Makedonia is an antiquarian located in Verkatehtaankatu near the railway station. This shop is mostly concentrated on comics from the past and the present. Some of the comics are new, but mostly the shop sells second hand comics. As any self respecting professional, they know their field thoroughly and can answer most of the customers questions without too much thinking. On their homepage Makedonia offers a chance to create a list of missing items and a service to inform the customer of suitable items on the arrival. That is some awesome service! Ensipainos is located in Hämeenpuisto and is part of a chain that consists of three sale bookstores and a wholesale store as well. In the sale bookstores you can find mostly the remnants from publishers and postcards and other gifts. In the online store of Ensipainos you can make orders that can be later picked up at the store or delivered to you at home. The order is paid by bank transfer. The book is held after the order for ten days and shipped after paid.
No matter where you buy your books, you should remember the wise words of Jörn Donner: “It’s always worth to read!”