I am lucky in that my wife doesn’t just tolerate my male hobbies, she takes an active interest and contributes. We watch F1 races and football matches together, at the pub she will take a small sip of the different real ales so as to understand their allure and she loves blatting around the Warwickshire lanes in the Caterham. So it is with shaving, as presents she has bought me many St James’s soaps and creams over the years, also a fine Trumper’s shaving brush and, earlier this year, my Mergress razor.
Which brings us to Russia, a huge nation of 142 million people where most of the men are traditional wet shavers. So there is a big market for shaving consumables, and it is a market where shaving creams are favoured over shaving soaps. In the modern, capitalist, Russia free market competition dominates so there is plenty of competition to give this large customer base the creams they want, this has led to a proliferation of high quality products.
Unfortunately these excellent creams (and after shave balms) are pretty much unavailable in the West. Perhaps because it is not worth the logistics for such low cost specialist items, perhaps because of the barrier that Cyrillic script presents, or perhaps because the manufacturers cannot be bothered. However there is a part of the world that was a part of the Soviet Union and that is now in the West and that is the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These small countries are now in the European Union and NATO yet they have sizeable ethnic Russian minorities who like to buy Russian goods. So, uniquely, in these countries the West and Russia coexist culturally. In the language, in the food and in what you can buy in the shops.
You can see where this is going. Yes my wife goes to Latvia several times a year. And yes she brings me back the shaving creams and aftershave balms. And yes, they are excellent.
You never know, by publicising this it could increase the demand and/or the supply of these creams to Western traditional shavers, which would be a good thing as you can’t get too much choice.
Yep. They are great 🙂 Speaking of possibly increasing demand, I personally feel that this demand is already pretty constant by now. I receive two-three orders a week from people outside Latvia who buy these – US, UK, Italy, France. In fact, my first trial batch of imported creams went away in a week or so.
Bruce, I believe Viking is a Bulgarian cream, not russian.
My wife is fluent in Russian and Latvian. In Russian, on the pack it says produced in Russia and gives an address. On the Latvian language sticker it also says made in Russia.
I am happy to believe that there is a Bulgarian Viking shaving cream, but this is not it.
Actually, it is Bulgarian made by Aroma (aroma-bg.com). May you please post or send us the photo of the label on that tube? And I know it is not available in Latvia officially, maybe in central market of Riga.
So you think that I am not telling the truth.
On the pack it says (in Russian). Produced in Russia, “Red Line”, 143005, Moscow Area, Odincovo, Vokzalnaja Street 53. Phone 495 590 8283
I did not think you were hiding something from us, but I did want to know if this cream was really made in Russia. Viking creams made by Aroma in Bulgaria: http://www.aroma-bg.com/products/index.php?cat=1&cat_id=8&sub_cat_id=51&lg=en Pretty similar, huh? And on “Red Line” web-site – producers of Russian Viking – it is said that cream is a product of joint researches of both Russian and European technologists. They may produce it in association with Aroma. It would be interesting to compare both.
I had a Bulgarian-made Viking. Never tried it. Several weeks ago traded it with a couple of other creams for Bulgaria for a DE razor.
Bruce, do you like it? And the rest of the Russian stuff?
And yes, I like Stolichnaya:)
Bruce, with all due respect, your statement: “in these countries the West and Russia coexist culturally. In the language, in the food and in what you can buy in the shops” is simply not true. Especially in ‘language and food’ part.
Well, being a newbie wetshawer I can confirm that DE blades available in those states are those intended for RU market, but here the similarity and P&G (ex-Gillette) logistic/policy issues ends. 🙂
I have visited Latvia many times and have also been to Estonia and Lithuania. I have many Latvian friends.
In all three countries there is a sizeable ethnic Russian population, so Russian is widely spoken as are the native languages of each country and I find I can get by with English.
The same with food, in restaurants I can buy Solyanka, Western fast food, Scandinavian food and much more. Lido in Latvia has Russian and Western food side by side.
In the shops, as you point out, most Russian goods are available. Also most Western goods are available.
So what I said is true based on my own experience.
Bruce, how does the Tet-a-Tet ASB compare to other balms?
The Tet-a-Tet ASB is semi clear and absorbs easily. It has a very distinctive, almost medicinal, smell. This comes from the extract of a certain sort of pine tree that has lots of beneficial qualities.
I like it.
Where can folks in the US acquire these products?
Try here: http://britva.eu/
The Viking cream was made in Bulgaria but production has recenctly moved to Russia. In other news, production of the Alen Mak products has ceased.
Everest shaving cream is simply superb! Lathers very well etc etc…And in Estland it costs only € 0.70. Its totaly worth the asking price.
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