Yesterday our protagonist made a pleasant discovery, the little independent shop-cum-cafe near Mestaritalli (as photographed here). Her delight is only matched by her bafflement that her compatriots seem to care not one jot about the loss of small shops, those called “independent” by the British when they debate their cities and their woes.
In Finland “hectare halls” or giant shopping malls have been going up at an accelerating rate for some years and their customer base continues to grow. There’s little resistance or critique from any but the most academic of observers. (Our protagonist promises to track down a critical commentary she chanced upon in a professional publication – the statistics were, she assures me, mind boggling.)
Why, she asked herself, is there a shop on the edge of a small town like Raisio that has an entire aisle devoted to chewing gum?
Why, she pondered, is it so hard to find any critical comments online (at least one Kokoomus, i.e. Finnish conservative party, candidate has written of it in relation to the home-town of Finland’s architectural demi-god, Alvar Aalto, i.e. Jyväskylä, in Finnish of course, here). After all, rants of all other kinds flourish in Finland’s cyberspace.
Meanwhile, over in the UK the celebrity campaigner and writer George Monbiot has put the evils of out-of-town and edge-of-town shopping into the media spotlight once again. Not that evil supermarkets have been left to expand in peace in the UK for years. Campaigns against openings of big-chain supermarkets are everywhere, even if most don’t succeed. They’ve had mainstream publicity too, at least since the New Economics Foundation published its influential report called “Clone Towns”.
Kamppi, with which our protagonist began her musings on this lovely city of Helsinki, is then just a slice of a much bigger cake. More of which later.