Along with all of the positives that are part and parcel of moving to a new city – experiencing a new culture, learning a new language, making new acquaintances – there are of course difficulties. Hopefully, this short guide will work to ameliorate at least one of the challenges of settling into a lifestyle; namely, that of where to find food, clothing, and other necessities, and especially how the different options near the VGUES campus compare.
Clothing and Electronics, Etc.
Shopping Malls: Cloverhouse is the most centrally located. Kalima Mall is new and very popular. Vladivostok’s GUM (most Russian cities have one) is located in several locations along Ul. Svetlanskaya and contains a large number of retailers. The best place to start with the GUM is Ul. Svetlanskaya 45, which houses stores and restaurants over several floors connected by escalators.
Rinok: For really cheap goods as well as organic produce, stop by the rinoks in the city. There are two specialized in food near the university. For a larger experience – and especially if you are looking for clothes, electronics, etc, the most well-known is “The Chinese Market” at Sportivnaya. Haggling is customary here.
Antiques and Souvenirs: There is one souvenir shop that virtually all the city’s guides take their tourists to. It’s located at the top of the city’s funicular, at an outlook with a great view of the Golden Horn Bay. It’s simply called “Souvenir Shop” and sells all sorts of Russian goodies, from matryoshkas to Russian shawls to thousand dollar samovars. The Arsenyev Museum of the Primorsky Region is a good place to find more locally-themed souvenirs with the icons of Vladivostok: anchors and tigers.
Clothing: Vladivostok’s various shopping centers are spattered with high-end clothing. American brands like Columbia and The North Face can usually be found at sports chain clothing stores like Sportlandia. However, if you are on a budget, see the entry below on “rynok” for cheap, Chinese knockoffs of brands like Adidas, Uggs, and others.
Chinese Market: If you are looking to stay on a budget, try the Sportivnaya Market located on Sportivnaya Street (locally referred to as the “Chinese Market”). Whatever prices are ‘normal’ elsewhere in the city cease to apply here and almost anything you want: food, tools, appliances, books, movies, clothes, can all be found. If you’re not interested in name brand, this is the place to go. Haggling is very commonplace. Even if you don’t speak Russian very well, numbers are all you need to strike a deal. Just be willing to walk away if you don’t like the price.
General grocery shopping tips: Bring a reusable bag with you. Supermarkets charge you a fee per bag (пакет), so save yourself some money and the environment some waste and come prepared. I personally just use my backpack. Go outside of the university for your groceries. A nice convenience about ВГУЭС is that the university itself sells just about everything you need to survive in the college itself: a pharmacy (аптека), small market (продукты), several cafes, even clothing stores and numerous other boutiques. However, do yourself a favor and get out and see the city a bit – you won’t regret it. Also, the convenience of these shops tends to manifest itself in slightly higher prices.
Below are several reviews from students of the shopping experiences in Vladivostok.
ул. Некрасовская 29
Yet another supermarket, and this one, even closer to campus. OK! Supermarket (ОК! супермаркет), located on the corner of Krilova (Крылова) and Nekrasovskaya (Некрасовская), is the closest to campus, being a mere 5 minute stroll from the grounds itself. However, what it boasts in proximity, it lacks in quality. It seems that this is likely the last stop the produce truck makes, and the selection in all departments considerably trails the prior two destinations. However, as one might expect, the prices here are a little lower and it does carry, from what I have heard from a fellow foreign student, an exceptionally scrumptious brand of pelmeni (пельмени) called “Homestyle Secrets” (Домашние секреты). Additionally, it is a convenient option when you’ve forgotten an easy-to-find item or are in need of one those cumbersome 5-liter jugs of water and want to save a little walking time. In summation, despite the exclamation mark, OK! Supermarket is just OK.
Highlights: accepts credit cards, close to campus, inexpensive
Красного знамени проспект, 82
Located in between 5+ and 25 Fresh, directly on street level, is Pacific Ocean Supermarket (Тихoокеанский супермаркет). Coincidentally, this store’s location relative to its neighbors seems to match its offerings. The selection of fresh produce and bakery products is close to that of 5+ and certainly ahead of 25 Фреш. Though, for no particular reason, I tend not to frequent this establishment and will, therefore, refrain from any conjecturing. Know that it’s there, relatively close and worth a look if you’re having trouble finding a product elsewhere.
Highlights: accepts credit cards
Open air/farmer’s market
Красного знамени проспект
The “saving the best for last” mentality certainly holds true here. As it’s only late September and shorts and a t-shirt are still sufficient dress during the day, the farmer’s markets are still loaded with produce. And this is by far the best option, economically, environmentally, taste-wise and on and on. I’m here usually daily if not specifically in need of something, then simply to experience the communal atmosphere that emanates from the alleyway of clustered salesmen (продовцы) and saleswomen (продовшицы). Apart from featuring the freshest, most inexpensive produce around the campus, this market also allows you to develop relationships (and practice your Russian) with the local farmers and shop-keepers. Such opportunities are harder to come by in the larger chains. Located in between 25 Fresh and Pacific Ocean Supermarket, this market is as close as any (apart from OK!). While fruit and vegetable stands can be found all over the city, some perhaps closer to the university at times, this location is consistently crowded with farmers and boasts the most consistent, widest selection of goods in the area.
Highlights: fresh produce, very inexpensive, best place to shop while experiencing local culture