Non-standard way to trade and unusual office alternatives

Where in the capital is it possible to offload the contents of your wardrobe? In what cafй you do not have to pay for the coffee and cookies? Where can you take unwanted things, and at what office is it possible to make useful social contacts?Whilst shops, cafes and business-centres will never lose their relevance, over time, traditional forms of trade change and, as a result, new and interesting solutions appear.
By Valery Overianov

Time is money
One of the most striking and unusual establishments is the ‘anti-cafй’. In essence, the client pays, not for meal and drinks, but for the time spent in the cafe. During your stay you can treat yourself with cookies, toast with jam, tea and coffee. In the anti-cafй there is a refrigerator, a microwave, plates and tableware and it is possible to purchase more nourishing dishes too.

Currently, in Minsk there is only one such establishment — Fisher’s House — although it is envisaged that other such cafйs will be appearing soon. In the evenings a lot of people are in the cafй. Whole companies of people sit on soft armchairs, people are playing board games and chatting. “The main rule we have is no alcohol and cigarettes. So you will not find drunken people here,” says Yekaterina Vorobei, organiser of the Fisher’s House free space.

One minute in the anti-cafe costs Br400. For people staying there three hours or more, the price is halved. The establishment consists of several premises: the general hall, with movable furniture, a play-room with an X-box, a kitchen and two separate rooms which can be reserved for birthday celebrations or for larger groups. To ensure that visitors are not bored, there are a lot of board games, and various activities are often conducted on site.

Many a little
You can ‘offload’ your wardrobe contents in a regular charity shop or in the KaliLaska charity shop. “According to the working style, our shop is very close to European charity-shops, but also has its own features,” says Alesya Pchelka, the founder and project head of KaliLaska. “People bring their useful, unwanted items and we sort them. 95 percent of these items are donated to needy people and five per cent are kept for sale. This allows us to work without sponsorship and makes us self-supporting. We also carry out various charity activities in the shop. For example, charity concerts, where the tickets are not money, but objects that we can later donate or sell. We often visit orphanages, where we donate the collected items and spend time with the children. So we are more than a standard charity shop.”

The shop sells household decorations, books, clothes, statuettes, records, etc. “When choosing things for sale, we are not guided by a specific customer, although we do not currently sell children’s clothes,” says the head of the project. “The assortment includes vintage things, for example, old books, records and fashionable clothes which can’t be called priority items.”

The charity shop can be found at the ‘TSEKH’ premises, in a repaired factory.

At the same venue, there is also a new format office structure that people looking for a job can take advantage of. This is a ‘co-working’ model. This general space is used by participants who remain independent and free. “We have the ‘silent shop’ which can be used as a gallery or a platform for carrying out of various activities, and the ‘noisy shop’ — an office environment used for co-working,” said Ksenia Avimova, Director of ‘TSEKH’ premises.

The workplace can be rented on a daily basis, or even for longer periods; one month rental costs 70 Euros. The premises also boast a bar, where users can purchase drinks and a meal. “Co-working is suitable for people who require a remote workplace. I have experienced first-hand that it is better to work at the office as a working atmosphere is created here,” says Ms. Avimova. “When you work at home, there are a lot of things which can distract you. In a cafй it is very noisy. In a library it is silent, but the rules are too strict. As for me, for example, I can’t imagine myself with a cup of coffee and a bun in a reading hall. In a co-working environment, special working conditions are created. The people around you are busy, and this motivates you to work also. From time to time, you need take a break. Here, during your rest, you can communicate with other interesting people and make useful social contacts.”

On the whole, such unique places are not a wonder for Belarus, but as the success of such forms of trade and such services in Europe shows, this model is one that will be expanding in the future. In any case, this sort of establishment makes a city more interesting and the life in it more eventful.
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