Peak consumerism hits Finland this week as retailers try to boost their sales around the Black Friday frenzy – a tradition imported from America just a few years ago.
Recently the event has expanded from just one day of special offers to a whole week of reduced prices, and then it continues into the weekend as well with shops offering deep discounts on some products.
But not every Finnish retailer is getting in on the act. Some are taking a different approach.
Helsinki’s Varusteleka store, which sells surplus military and outdoor equipment, has increased the prices of ten items by 15% to 40% and will be donating part of the profits to the Hursti Foundation charity, which runs a food bank and services for low-income local residents.
“Varusteleka is making a profit. We’re out of a years-long struggle to being profitable and we can now fully embrace our values. And I’m proud to say this was not my idea. It wa the idea of my employees who have listened to me when I have told them what Varusteleka is about” says owner Valtteri Lindholm.
The company started first selling surplus military equipment from European armies with excess stocks at the end of the Cold War.
But in recent years the company’s business model has changed, although there’s still an emphasis on sustainability and the circular economy.
“Unfortunately there is no Cold War and there is no military surplus. European armies are smaller than the Finnish army now and we have to sell new clothes and make our own clothing, and this is how we respond” Lindholm tells News Now Finland.
“We’ve been pushing to make more durable, more expensive clothing and this is part of that strategy. We really hope to raise the prices of our products to make them even more durable. The jacket I’m wearing today, and have been wearing for the last ten years was made in 1947 so that’s what we aim to get, similar durability” he explains.
However, the message of less consumerism isn’t getting through to customers as Lindholm says the store had already made a third more money by noon on Black Friday than they did the previous week.
“We thought we would sell less today […] but unfortunately people are rushing to buy from us, and people have also bought those products with the increased prices”
“It looks like the message didn’t really work” he says.
Increased prices for environmental group too
Another Finnish organisation raising its prices for Black Friday is Save Pond Hockey.
The campaign is raising awareness of the climate crisis and the vanishing effect it will have on traditional ice cover for sports on lakes, the sea and ponds.
Today the organisation has raised their membership fees – adding 25% to join and become a member.
Save Pond Hockey is already noting the effects of climate change in Helsinki where the popular Brahenkenttä outdoor ice rink has delayed its opening again this year because the weather is simply too warm.
“These winter sports are a key part of northern culture and tradition. We all need to take immediate climate action together and do the best we can to preserve the roots of this sport for the next generation” the organisation says.