Secretive store selling ‘crazy stuff’ to wealthy
Boarded-up windows. A rough metal door streaked with black paint, and with a vision panel. Entry by password only.
Gara, a store opened by the eccentric Kyiv millionaire property developer Garik Korogodsky, looks more like some post-apocalyptic shelter than an exclusive boutique – at least on the outside.
Once inside however, customers see why Gara is known as the store for crazy stuff: It only stocks strange and costly items from all over the world, including luxurious eyeglasses, weird handbags, freaky masks, jewelry, and more. Most of the items look like accessories Willy Wonka might choose, or something worn by one of the characters in “Alice in Wonderland.”
Prices range from a modest Hr 1,500 to an extravagant Hr 500,000 for a pair of unique silver eyeglasses.
Entry to the store is by appointment only, via a sign-up page on the store’s website, www.gara.com.ua, where potential customers choose a date and time for their visit. Exactly an hour before the appointed time, clients are sent a password by SMS. Only then are they able to enter.
“We’re closed not because we’re arrogant or selective,” says Rita Godlevska, the director of Gara. “Vice versa, we’ve shut our doors because we want every client to feel special. This way our staff can pay them the maximum attention.”
The customer is allowed to bring along a couple of friends for coffee and cookies, while trying on quirky accessories and taking photos.
And the goods in Gara are well worth a photo. The shop’s main focus is weird glasses – which comes as no surprise, since its owner Korogodsky, one of Ukraine’s richest people, with a current fortune estimated at $60 million, is known for his extravagant style and passion for odd pairs of spectacles.
For those who share this passion – and have quite a bit of money to spend – the store offers glasses with temples made in the shape of a woman’s
legs (Hr 12,000), glasses made of buffalo horn (Hr 8,000), and a pair with the glass replaced by two large crystals, with pink feathers around them (Hr 6,000).
Korogodsky himself has his eye on a pair that costs Hr 400,000, but says he’s hesitating to buy them.
“When you can afford a lot it is hard to keep yourself from temptation,” he says as he tries on his dream glasses in the store.
Among the 60 brands of accessories, which have been carefully selected by Korogodsky’s wife Anna Korogodska and store manager Godlevska, there are only two from Ukrainian designers. One is Kharkiv mask designer Bob Basset, who creates futuristic and steam punk masks for famous fashion houses like Givenchy. The other is Kostyantyn Kofta, a designer of naturalistic and creepy leather bags, which look like human spines or screaming faces. In Ukraine one can buy these brands only in Gara, according to Godlevska.
“Kofta once tried to sell his works in Kyiv,” she says, “but he found that Ukrainian customers weren’t ready for his controversial art.”
Gara has been operating since March and is yet to turn a profit – not that the owner seems to mind, however.
“We opened the store just for fun,” says Korogodsky. “But you know what? People actually come in and buy stuff.”
Ukraine’s richest rentier Garik Korogodsky tries on a pair of glasses worth Hr 12,600 in Gara, the Crazy Stuff Store that he opened in March. (Anastasia Vlasova)
A saleswoman stands next to the U.S.-made leather masks for parties and role play in Gara store on July 22. (Anastasia Vlasova)