Lavka Radostei

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This summer the first and the only charity shop in Moscow ‘Lavka Radostei’ is celebrating its first birthday. To find out how successful the Russian project in Moscow is, Moscow expat Life visited Ekaterina Milova, the executive director of the non-profit charity foundation ‘Fse Vmestye’ and one of the founders of ‘Lavka Radostei,’ which is a charity shop.

Ekaterina, you only have to walk down a high street in towns in the USA, Australia, Canada, and Europe to see that charity shops are part of the cultural fabric of many countries around the world. How did it happen in Moscow?

Selection_002“It was Ekaterina Bermund, the director of the charitable foundation ‘Children’s Hearts’ who inspired everybody with the idea of opening the first charity shop in Moscow after her return from Britain. Having seen many such shops in London which raise money for charity, Katya thought: why not Moscow?

“We posted an urgent appeal for help on facebook and got a reply back from Svetlana Pchelnikova the director of a puppet-show workshop on Vetoshny Lane. She gave us a room of 20 meters to use. That is how we started. But that room quickly proved too small for us. After half a year we had to move on. The Moscow City Government allocated us a room on Prospect Mir, which we use as a warehouse. Right now we do not have premises of our own which we can use as a shop, but we do have a kind of warehouse where we keep things. But our team works at various charity fairs once every week or so. Premises for a shop have been promised by the Moscow Government but paper work has yet to be formalized.”

Do you pay taxes?

Selection_003“We do not pay taxes, because we don’t have prices. Everything is donated. This means that a customer can take out anything he likes and pay as much as he or she considers it should cost. Sometimes I wished we had prices. It is not fair when a person goes away with two big bags full of clothes and leaves 100 roubles for everything. We ask people to be righteous and donate 20-30% of the cost of the thing.

“All the money we get is given to the non-profit organization ‘Fse Vmeste.’ Then we decide where to direct funds. With the help of our charity shop we try to cover administration costs of the charitable foundation, because it is not easy to find enough money to pay our staff.”

What are the Ups and Downs of the charity shop?

“I think that main difficulty has been with finding the shop itself. I personally didn’t expect us to be so successful so quickly, even without permanent premises. It has become so well known. We have managed to create a good brand that has a good name. I have to thank all of our volunteers for their fantastic work. They don’t just help us out with arranging and receiving goods, they also take an active part in charity festivals and fairs.

“From time to time people who don’t believe in charity come to us. Our shop makes it possible for people donating goods to see the excitement and happiness in the eyes of somebody else who is buying the thing they bring. Sometimes people in genuine need of help come to our stall at various events. Everybody is different. Despite all the pitfalls the atmosphere at ‘Lavka Radostei’ has an incredibly concentrated charge of love, kindness and dedication.”

I can’t but agree that there is special atmosphere inside the charity shop. We met with Ekaterina at a big charity festival ‘Den Radosty’ at Vinzavod where ‘Lavka Radostei’ together with 20 charitable foundations and volunteer organizations belonging to ‘Fse Vmeste’. While we were talking, the last preparations were being made. Someone was arranging cosmetics goods. Somebody else was arranging clothes. I managed to get acquainted with the ‘Lavka Radostei’ team.

Selection_004I met Ksenya Anopko from the Charitable Foundation ‘Galchonok’ who was putting out some hand-made toys made by mentally disabled children. I also met Elena Smirnova from the Charitable Foundation ‘Sozdanie’ who donated some nice looking children’s clothes which had in turn being donated by a Russian clothes manufacturer. Just near the ‘Lavka Radostei’ stall, the Charitable Foundation ‘Galchonock’ had organized the ‘Hollywood Zone’ with a car from the famous Russian movie ‘Lightning’.

There was a real family holiday atmosphere, with a lot of activities. There were many workshops and showrooms. Food and drink was free. Clowns played with children. I was sorry to leave this place of kindness and smiles, and hope to come back next year.

You can always join ‘Lavka Radostei’ and work as a volunteer on such fairs or inside the shop.

If you want to be a volunteer of ‘Lavka Radostei’ you will need to speak some Russian.

Selection_006To become a volunteer or donate goods, please phone +7 495 5109728.

It would be appreciated if clothes are washed before being donated.
Furniture should be in fairly good condition.