Saturday, April 21, 2007

Marks and Spencers is here!

This week the new shopping centre at Gedimino 09, in Vilnius, opened. It's in the former municipality HQ which has been transformed quite astonishingly. Only the outside walls were left, and inside there are now four floors of shopping (not all of them used yet) including the Body Shop and Marks and Spencers. They did do a very nice job.

This is Vilnius, however, and must be one of the few capitals in the world where the city centre is almost deserted on the weekend. I popped in on the second day after opening, following a theatre performance - yes, there were queues at M&S, but nothing outrageous. You certainly did not have to fight your way through the crowds. Even today, on the first open Saturday, business was not particularly busy. Vilnius people seem to like to shop at the edge of town, at the big shopping centre at Akropolis. I am sure even the farmer's markets here are much busier on a Saturday than this shopping centre, or any others in the town centre. It's quite astonishing how quickly the shops change hands - there are now three or four shopping centres within spitting distance of each other, but not many people go there. M&S and the Body Shop are also not cheap, in Vilnius terms, though other shops are even more expensive.

I did not buy any clothes at M&S; it's not really my style, and I had also just completely reclad myself with much smaller clothes than before (to such a degree that last week in Germany I had trouble finding clothes small enough for the new me....). But they have a food department! It has no fresh foods, but it had seville orange marmalade which you can't get here, and my favourite musli! I should probably stock up a bit more on both - I just wonder how long this will last - the stuff is really quite expensive, but it's cheaper for me than shlepping it back from the UK. BHS has been and gone; it lasted about a year with its dull and dreary clothes. British companies don't realise that women in Lithuania, especially those with cash, are extremely stylish and also often extremely tall and thin. Folk don't really do frumpy!