St. Petersburg, Russia is Open for Business!

By Brian Wick, May 1997

[Photo of empty shop shelves in St.Petersburg]

A second look at St. Petersburg has given me a much better impression of the city from both an historical view, and from a business/economic perspective. The visit was made possible by invitation from an international student organization called AIESEC. I got involved in this organization while on a student exchange in Finland in 1996/97 to study international marketing at the University of Tampere.

A first look at the city gives an impression of old un-maintained building, tin-sided kiosks selling everything from raw meat to vodka, and a general lack of any commercial sense. As a visitor from the "west," I wasn't too surprised by what I thought I saw. I had heard that the Russian peoples didn't have very much money, and therefore were not really "material consumers."

Retail kiosk in central St. Petersburg selling vodka, chips, etc.As I discovered on my second trip to St. Petersburg, there is a large market, somehow shrouded by the beauty of the renascance architecture. The buildings that don't appear to contain anything other than offices and residences actually have vibrant retail entreprises in them.

... more later.

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