Thousands of people travel through Helsinki-Vantaa airport, the main airport for the Finnish capital, every day. While waiting for their flights they can shop an assortment of local products in the different tax-free shops, but one in particular is truly a destination of its own: The Moomin Shop.
We spoke to Cathariina Rothkirk, sales assistant, about their success and why the Moomins are so beloved by travelers from all over the world.
Tell me a little bit about the shop:
We opened the shop at the airport in 2007. At first we had a small shop then we moved to larger premises, the biggest shop yet. We try to stock a lot of different products here so everyone can find their perfect Moomin product.
Why do you think the Moomins are so popular?
It’s a well-written story. The first book was written in 1945 but it still deals with social problems and emotions that are relevant today.
Is there a particular group of travelers that are the biggest Moomin fans?
The Japanese are REALLY big fans. The daily flight to Japan leaves at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Between 2.30 and 4.30 we’re quite busy helping out Japanese tourists who want to pick up the last things they haven’t already bought from our two shops in town.
What are your most popular products in the store?
The Moomin mugs from Iittala that are collectibles. Then there’s phone strings, candleholders, all of the toys and the books of course.
Are there products with a particular character that are more popular?
I think everyone has their own favorite character, but products with Moomintroll himself are probably the most popular ones. People who aren’t familiar with Moomin might get something with the main character to start their collection and then expand from there.
Do you have a personal favorite character?
Yes, I like the Groke. I don’t think she’s scary, just misunderstood. She used to be a girl, but nobody talked to her or loved her so she became what she is. When you get to know her you realize she’s not evil, just different.
If you could recommend one product from the store to anyone, what would it be?
I’d tell everyone to buy and read the books. Everything started with the books. They’re funny, emotional and you get to know the characters. I wish everyone would read them!