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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SoHo in Moscow

MTMinistry of Gifts artisans transform Soviet objects.
There's no doubt about it: Shopping in Moscow has undergone a revolution in the past decade. But still, for the serious shopper, Moscow doesn't yet have whole neighborhoods of boutiques where you can spend an afternoon discovering all kinds of knick-knacks and whatnots that you had absolutely no need for until you saw them.

On those days when you wish you could beam yourself to Manhattan's SoHo, head to Pushkin Square instead and first wend your way to Novodel on Bolshoi Palashevsky Pereulok. This small shop is filled with unusual upscale crafts. It's as if a group of avant-garde artists married a group of traditional artisans and produced funky, folk-inspired progeny. You can find decorative felt hats (1,500 rubles); colorful batik scarves from Central Asia (about 3,000 rubles); jewelry made of wire, glass and old photographs (starting at 600 rubles); fruit made of fuzzy felt (300 rubles each); witty T-shirts (600 rubles); hand-painted china -- and much more to adorn your apartment and self.

Then cross Pushkin Square and head down Tverskaya, turn onto Maly Gnezdnikovsky Pereulok, and enter the Ministry of Gifts. Here the craft elves got happily pixilated before they took out their little hammers. The Ministry supports artisans who give new life to old things, and the little store is packed with Soviet-era objects transformed into quirky gifts and household items. Caviar tins are clocks; toy trains hold shot glasses; pieces of old doors covered in fake leather are turned into photo albums; ancient phones are safes. Other artisans have produced even more unusual items, like hedgehog mittens, knitted fox throws, and human-sized, quilted angel wings. Prices start at about 600 rubles.

Then head towards the back of the store and plunge into a world of color. This studio shop called Galereika is filled from floor to ceiling with traditional Russian felt in decidedly non-traditional forms and colors. Most appealing are the electric blue, acid green, hot pink, radiant yellow and bright orange valenki (felt boots) and slippers, but you can also indulge in scarves and ties, vegetables and fruits -- even briefcases and tea pots -- all made of brightly colored felt. Prices range from 300 to about 3,000 rubles.

If you want to learn the craft, you can sign up for master classes, held in the studio shop on weekends.

9 Bolshoi Palashevsky Per., Bldg. 1, 626-4538, noon to 8 p.m. daily except Sun.

Ministry of Gifts and Galereika
12/27 Maly Gnezdnikovsky Per. Bldg. 2-3, weekdays 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 629-97-32 and