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Village store near Latvian border makes no profit but keeps people together

A small village store.
A small village store. Source: ERR

Kaja Sööt, long-time shopkeeper at the Metsavenna dairy store in the village of Vastse-Roosa near the Estonian-Latvian border, told ERR show "Vikerhommik" that although the small store does not make a profit, it plays an important role in keeping the village community together.

Sööt has been a shopkeeper for 50 years. She is now retired but still occasionally helps out in the shop. "You have to treat your customers well. In the countryside it's not easy, young people tend to go to the city. You have to have something to offer to get them to come here," Sööt said.

Thirty years ago, there was always a long line at the store. "Especially at lunchtime, when the workers came in. We had quite a lot of people back then," said Sööt, adding that it can be busy now too, especially in the summer. "That's when the tourists come, thanks to the fact that we have a film location here - the Varga Hill," she said.

In winter, however, people come to the area thanks to its ski slopes and toboggan runs.

Sööt says the shop also attracts a lot of visitors from far and wide, including Latvians who come to buy cheese. Asked if Latvians don't know how to make cheese themselves, Sööt said she didn't think they do.

Turnover is of course down compared to the past, according to Sööt. While some small shops have been able to make ends meet thanks to alcohol sales, that is no longer the case. "I don't think we drink that much. Maybe those who used to buy it have gone to another world and younger people don't drink so much anymore."

Sometimes people come to the shop just to complain about their worries. "We chat, we offer tea and coffee - there's always someone. People want to be together," said Sööt.

Sööt thinks people would be very sad if the shop were to close at some point. "It's not for profit, but just to keep people together. If Meel (Meelis Mõttus, dairy manager - ed.) wasn't here in the village, I think there would be no life."

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Editor: Michael Cole

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