Se­cre­tive store selling ‘crazy stuff’ to wealthy

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - WITH VERONIKA MELKOZE­ROVA MELKOZE­[email protected]

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)

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