This summer the first and the only charity shop in Moscow âLavka Radosteiâ 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 âFse Vmestyeâ and one of the founders of âLavka Radostei,â 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?
âIt was Ekaterina Bermund, the director of the charitable foundation âChildrenâs Heartsâ 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?
âWe 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.â
Do you pay taxes?
âWe do not pay taxes, because we donât 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.
âAll the money we get is given to the non-profit organization âFse Vmeste.â 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.â
What are the Ups and Downs of the charity shop?
âI think that main difficulty has been with finding the shop itself. I personally didnât 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 donât just help us out with arranging and receiving goods, they also take an active part in charity festivals and fairs.
âFrom time to time people who donât 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 âLavka Radosteiâ has an incredibly concentrated charge of love, kindness and dedication.â
I canât but agree that there is special atmosphere inside the charity shop. We met with Ekaterina at a big charity festival âDen Radostyâ at Vinzavod where âLavka Radosteiâ together with 20 charitable foundations and volunteer organizations belonging to âFse Vmesteâ. 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 âLavka Radosteiâ team.
I met Ksenya Anopko from the Charitable Foundation âGalchonokâ who was putting out some hand-made toys made by mentally disabled children. I also met Elena Smirnova from the Charitable Foundation âSozdanieâ who donated some nice looking childrenâs clothes which had in turn being donated by a Russian clothes manufacturer. Just near the âLavka Radosteiâ stall, the Charitable Foundation âGalchonockâ had organized the âHollywood Zoneâ with a car from the famous Russian movie âLightningâ.
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 âLavka Radosteiâ and work as a volunteer on such fairs or inside the shop.
If you want to be a volunteer of âLavka Radosteiâ you will need to speak some Russian.
To 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.