Not a shopping paradise per se, Riga’s consumer charm lies in its dedication to tradition in the face of urbanism. Hand craftsmanship is protected and celebrated with a modern touch while the most popular source of food shopping abides to nature and its organic bounties. We’ve chosen the best representative worth a browse and purchase:
1. Riga Central Market
If you’re a gourmand in any sense of the word, this giant outdoor and indoor market will become your personal palatal playground. With military airship hangars converted into food pavilions, the market was the largest in Europe when it opened in 1930. Here you can buy produce straight from the Latvian farms, taste homemade pickled vegetables, choose from freshly smocked fish, or just walk around to gaze at the daily routine of locals doing their shopping. Central Market is organized into five pavilions: vegetables, dairy, meat, fish and gastronomy products, while also featuring extra outdoor stalls and a night market. The Spikeri Quarter next door is also a converted space (once a collection of warehouses for the loading and unloading of ships) that serves as a cultural center with frequent open-air events and concerts in the warmer months.
Nēģu iela 7, Rīga
2. Studio Natural
Linen, the most widely used fabric in Latvia, was one of the country’s main exports during the 18th and 19th centuries. Woven into cloth for the production of clothing and home textiles as well as ship sails and cloth bags, the popularity of linen has not waned. Studio Natural, founded by designer Laima Kaugure, is a prime stop for beautiful examples of this delicate textile. Personal design statements can be made to order and you can even come by to watch the actual weaving and production process during arranged personal visits. If you’re more of a browser, you can check out the selection of table linens, bed linens, curtains, blinds, towels, scarves, and clothing for sale. You can be sure that everything you see was made entirely by hand from high quality local fabrics that even caught the eye of such designers as Armani and Calvin Klein.
47 Bruņinieku street, Riga
Calling themselves a “Latvian design and lifestyle barn,” this boutique store offers a more eclectic selection of products made by Latvian designers. You’ll find bed linens, towels, clothing, furniture, tableware and lighting fixtures that all abide to the confluence of traditional Latvian craftsmanship and contemporary world views. You’ll also be happy to know that all of Rija’s products are natural and ecologically balanced, and their motto is to bring nature to the city dweller and modern design to the rural inhabitant. If you’re looking for a more classic gift, the boutique’s traditional hand woven mittens, brooches, and pastalas (traditional Latvian leather shoes) are options that stand out among the more modern items.
Tērbatas iela 6/8, Rīga
Another boutique where Latvian tradition is touched by the aesthetic of contemporary design, Etmo’s beautiful 100% wool scarves are probably one of the best antidotes against those freezing European winter temperatures. Apart from the spectrum of colors and motifs present in the scarf collection, the store also carries linen and woolen home textiles, pottery, porcelain, glass, candles, and extremely warm felt slippers. They also have a proud motto that guarantees that every item is handmade in Latvia by Latvian artists and craftsmen, so you’ll know that you’re buying something with a story or at least a personal memory.
Arsenala iela 7, Riga
5. Medus Veikals
Hidden in a more residential part of town, Medus Veikals is truly obsessed with honey. From beekeeper gear in one corner to shelves upon shelves of various edible and non-edible products in the other, the benefits of honey have been thoroughly investigated (to say the least). From Propolis with Honey that is used to treat respiratory diseases to the Rota ointment, which functions against skin inflammation and infections, the candles, soaps, honey mixes, bee pollen, bee bread, and dainties all contain tales of natural healing and health benefits. Make sure to ask for the English brochure, because the selection can become a bit daunting at first sight.
Alfrēda Kalniņa iela 1a, Riga
(All photos except Studio Natural's are taken by Feride Yalav)