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.