31 March 2015
Moscow's Changing Kiosk Regulations
Boris Akimov, Founder of LavkaLavka, On How His Farmers’ Cooperative is Moving into Moscow’s Food Stands
The following interview was conducted by The Village, a Russian-language publication in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev that seeks to inform locals about their various cities, upcoming events, urban changes, and history. Translation for USRCCNE was performed by Sophia Rehm, a SRAS Home and Abroad Scholar.
Moscow authorities are preparing to dismantle all the city’s kiosks, the purchase of which they required three years ago, in order to erect new kiosks in their places. City Hall hopes to use this as a means of once again addressing street trade reform, in order to prevent businessmen from subleasing land, and to gain the authority to approve lists of tenants (merchants will be able to claim a kiosk only by applying to the Department of City Property). Alexei Nemeryuk, Head of Moscow’s Department of Trade and Services, explained the need to construct new kiosks three years after they were last replaced: “The situation now is quite different, and a different look is required.
The first to win a place in Moscow’s new kiosks was Boris Akimov, the founder of farm cooperative LavkaLavka. The Village found out why farmers in the cooperative are interested in the street kiosks, and what they will sell in them.
“Moscow has had a problem for years with leasing retail space – the rates are very high. There have been cases of quite successful restaurants closing because their owners were not able to pay the rent. This has a large impact on our business: we have to incorporate all our costs into the final price of the product.
The fact that City Hall has decided to undertake street trade reform again works out fairly well for us. Businessmen used to rent pieces of land; now, they can rent pre-established retail spaces, and everyone will have one proprietor: the city. It is more profitable for us to rent kiosks directly, without intermediaries. Rent on city property is calculated differently: it can be half of commercial rates. What’s more, the city’s real estate is limited, and the best has long ago been bought up (often by those who are engaged in illegal subleasing).
As I understand, it will be possible to rent the new kiosks for five years at a time at a fixed rate. This means that no one will be able to come to us tomorrow and say, “The rent has gone up because the dollar rose.” We will be able to work in peace. If we manage to obtain kiosks at a long-term lease for a good price, then the price of our produce will be lower, and it will be affordable for more people.
What we will sell will depend on the size of the new kiosks. If they are large kiosks, 430-750 square feet, they will have the layout of convenience stores (we have opened four of these already, and will soon have a fifth, on Chayanova Street) – with meat, poultry, fresh bread, vegetables, and more. If they are small, 215-320 square feet, then it will be a new layout for us: we’ll most likely make “mono-kiosks” with meat or dairy products.
The Head of the Department of City Property, Vladimir Efimov, said that the process of replacing the existing stalls with new ones will take six to nine months. He promised that the replacement of the kiosks will be “painless,” and that stalls will be replaced only after the current leases have expired.
For his part, the head of the Department of Trade and Services, Alexei Nemeryuk, said in an interview with news agency TASS that the authorities do not plan to demolish all existing kiosks, but he confirmed that once the terms of their leases have concluded, designated stalls will be put up for auction, and the city will order new stalls independently. “the Moscow city government is ordering its own facilities and will auction these in such a way so as not to place a burden on businessmen only to have the replaced again in another three years. The facilities themselves will be made available by and the contracts concluded with the Department of City Property,” Nemeryuk explained.