Treasures here and there

At first glance, Finnish antique stores look just like those in New Zealand: goods piled high, customers sorting through, hoping for a lucky find. But there are a few things here that often remind me that I am in Helsinki.


Nordic animals: bears, moose, reindeer, wolves, foxes and salmon. No kiwi pot holders or tuatara sculptures here.


Light shades: it’s customary to take the light shades when you move house in Finland, even when you are renting. It was a surprise to find bare wires hanging from the ceiling when we moved into our place, but that’s just the way it goes. Of course we have light shades in NZ too, but perhaps we don’t have the need to buy them quite so often.


Glassware: there’s always loads of glassware for sale here, especially coloured glass and anything made by Finnish company Iitalla.


Ceramic kitchenware: Likewise you’d be hard pressed to find an antique store here that didn’t have stacks of kitchenware from Finnish company Arabia.


Tea accessories: including Russian tea cups and tea-glass holders, silver teaspoons and ornate samovars. In New Zealand we tend to have more tea accessories hailing from England than Russia, as well as places such as China and Japan.


Dolls: particularly blonde ones in European costume. In New Zealand stores you’d also find, from a different era, brown-skinned dolls in traditional Maori dress.


I went into another antique store recently that specialises in selling tapa cloth and artworks from the South Pacific. The owner told me that these items are highly sought after here, particularly Maori artefacts.

This store reminded me of the warm home of one of my closest friends who always has tapa cloth displayed on her walls.

I know some people may find the selling of cultural artefacts offensive, but on this grey, wet Helsinki day, it was just really nice to see something that brought memories from home.


Helsinki Second Hand

Miko and I spent hours recently at the playground near Kaivopuisto. He was so tired when we left he fell fast asleep in the stroller. I took a new way home and was pleased to come across Ravintola Sea Horse and its little kiosk across the road. People were enjoying cool beverages in the late-afternoon sun and I decided to join them and read a few pages of my book while I had the chance.

Ravintola Sea Horse kiosk

Ravintola Sea Horse kiosk

After a pleasant half-hour I wandered up towards the city centre and came across Helsinki Second Hand, a huge warehouse with a ramp leading down to just below street-level.


The store was full of antiques and furniture, some familiar and some that seemed very nordic. It reminded me of Junk & Disorderly, a second-hand store we really like back in Auckland.


The markets and second-hand stores here are full of glassware and crockery with the two big names being Arabia and Iittala. Arabia has been making ceramics, porcelain and other forms of pottery in Finland since 1874. Iittala has been making glassware since a factory was opened in the town of the same name in 1881.


Large pieces of industrial furniture are as popular here as they are at home, with old farming items from traditional Finnish life featuring too.

NOT Miko's new bed

NOT Miko’s new bed

Now that summer is here, huge cruise ships frequently come and go from the nearby ports of Tallinn, Stockholm and St Petersburg. There are some great vintage posters you can get and the booming horns of boats can be heard across the city as they slowly pull out of Helsinki’s various ports.


Thankfully they’re not enough to wake a sleeping child and Miko slept soundly until we got home, giving me a good amount of time to navigate the store without having to say once, ‘don’t touch!’

Helsinki Secondhand