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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Cure for Leaving Empty-Handed

It is the last day before you are leaving to go home, you have just realized that you forgot to buy gifts for your family, and you have no time to go out to the Izmailovo flea market. Many foreigners have had this experience at some point during their stay in Moscow. Many others are put off by the inflated prices and ho-hum choice of goods at many khudozhestvenny saloni in the city center. But last-minute shoppers looking for a quick souvenir shop that satisfies a wide range of incomes and tastes need look no further than across the street from the Novokuznetskaya metro statio. The Salon Moskovskogo Kulturnogo Fonda, or Salon of the Moscow Culture Foundation, stands unobtrusively between two local commercial stores, its grey metal sign barely readable from more than a few meters away. But the closer one approaches, the more eye-catching the store's exterior becomes. A wooden door and wooden window frames distinguish its facade, as does the attractive window display, which brings to mind a quaint country kitchen. Lace tablecloths are draped over a wicker basket holding an artistic assortment of dried flowers. Brass kettles hang from above, and a model wooden shelf displays an assortment of crockery, more hanging baskets, and ornately carved wooden spoons. The salon, which features local folk crafts as well as art from throughout Russia, was set up four years ago by the city government's culture foundation. Sales proceeds are divided between the artists and the foundation. Inside the small store, the crafts are arranged roughly by category, although there is a pleasantly jumbled atmosphere which makes the occasional unusual find all the more rewarding. A large selection of blue-and-white Gzhel pottery, including matryoshka salt and pepper shakers, candlesticks and vases range from 1,600 to 25,000 rubles and inhabit their own glass case by the door. More models of painted ceramic bowls and pottery can be had for between 5,000 to 8,000 rubles apiece. A variety of dolls are displayed on the walls and in neighboring glass cases. The dolls vary in price from 30,000 rubles for a colorful cloth doll in festive regional dress (the dolls are labeled according to the region they represent) to 80,000 rubles for a more luxurious doll dressed in the maroon velvet robes and a fur hat and muff that bring to mind a 19th-century noblewoman. The store has a particularly good selection of jewelry, ranging from inexpensive silver rings and bracelets from Dagestan to pricier and more elaborate necklaces and earrings with stones from the Urals. Strings of beads run from 9,000 rubles upwards, depending on the stone, and rings range from 6,000 to 24,000 rubles, with a set of malachite earrings and necklace of inlaid metal costing 112,000 rubles. Be sure to check out all three jewelry cabinets. Here and there among the traditional folk crafts are interesting antiques: a black lace dress from the 1930s, that costs 270,000 rubles, and two antique samovars, priced at 32,000 and 48,000 rubles respectively. Other good buys are unfringed silk batik scarves in a number of unusual styles for 24,000 rubles each, and colorful potholders for 4,800 rubles each. The selection of oil paintings and lacquer boxes are less than spectacular, although the painted eggs, most of which are heavy on the gold, are more appealing and start at 66,000 rubles apiece. For those wanting to make their rubles stretch as far as possible, there are a variety of conventional matryoshki, wooden hair clips and ceramic mugs and teacups for well under 10,000 rubles apiece. The Salon of the Moscow Cultural Foundation is located at 16 Ulitsa Pyatnitskaya. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. Tel. 231-3302. Nearest metro: Novokuznetskaya.