Like it or not, the opening of the Tasku mall is the talk of Tartu and will be for a while. Being the compleat yuppie, I am not immune to its lures, and so you may have to endure further reports. In the words of a forum signature I once saw - if God is inside us all, then I sure hope he likes tacos, cause that's what he's getting.
The most significant item in Tasku's assortment is not the cinema, although that is very welcome indeed; it is the New Yorker clothes store. A chain that I have not seen in Estonia before, it occupies one of the largest spaces and differs in important ways from the Seppäläs that it ostensibly competes against.
It seems to be aimed predominantly at teenagers, which I suppose is a wise move, but also carries sizes and styles fit for an older crowd. The key to its appeal - and you will have to infer the extent of this appeal from the fact that I am writing about clothes in the first place - is a combination of very reasonable prices and fashions which are just a little bit more distinctive than what you would find elsewhere. It seems to commoditize an overall boutique aesthetic, but at a basic-casual price point. It's not entirely without competition, I've been shopping at Cartini for years, but it's new, different, and big. I walked into New Yorker after work today, and came out with a winter jacket. It's fake leather, but it's close enough, looks good on me, and cost about a fifth of what the real deal would have been even at a cheap place like Cartini. Since the only truly practical aspect of a leather jacket - the fact that it'll protect your skin if you fall of a Harley - is somewhat lost on me, I am prepared to take a chance and eating the price.
Furthermore, New Yorker brings a few new and very commendable touches to the shopping experience. I was annoyed at first to see a shortage of cashiers, but somehow the two blonde girls at the single checkout desk were managing to keep the Friday-evening crowd moving along at an acceptable clip - which is little short of stupefying for one with experiences of Hullud Päevad combat. Their shopping bags are free, and far more pleasing at a tactile level than the plastic ones at Kaubamaja; they try to avoid the expense by stressing environmental concerns, making the point that their bags are actually valuable and they would be very grateful if you brought it back for recycling the next time you stopped by Tasku. Whether that'll happen often enough is beside the point: I applaud a stimulation of that sort of mentality. And the most pleasant innovation is something no Estonian store has ever been known to do: New Yorker has a no-quips, 14-day return policy. If the garment is as-new, they'll actually give you your money back.
With the opening of this new store, Tasku and Tartu seem to have become the entry point for something which is long-overdue in this land: civilized retail.
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I remembered your comment about Rome and grungy clothes not cutting it there. I wonder if malls like this, while welcome, could change Tartu's whole look and ambience.
Here in the US I was in a mall yesterday and all the stuff in the main anchor department stores seemed so infected by hip-hop (or surf culture) and weird logos. I couldn't even find a basic plaid flannel shirt with corduroy trousers (for a "generic Bohemian casual look", natch). I would have walked out of there looking like a disaffected race-neutral 18-year-old with a high school degree. I actually finally went to The Gap -- something I would never have done before - and got two polos on sale for $20 each and only then did I feel like I had some self-worth.
Hey! Unfortunately I moved out of the city of good toughs to the capital before seeing this!
And here in Kristiine Keskus there is a New York clothes shop (the only one I found so far).
I hope other companies that feateyre in Tallinn are there in Tasku also (like Zara).
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