Boris Akimov and Alexander Mikhailov are the owners of the Lavka online store.
Domashniy Ochag talked to those who chose the latter between city life and rural life - and was not disappointed
The second story. Tasty Life
Boris Akimov and Alexander Mikhailov - owners of the Lavka online store www.lavka-eda.ru
“Do you know,” asks Alexander Mikhailov, IT director of a large plastic card company, “what is the difference between a home-grown chicken grown in natural conditions and a broiler from a poultry farm? Cartilage in the middle of the abdomen! In broilers, he does not have time to ossify, he lives such a short life, and domestic chicken is grown longer, and the cartilage becomes hard. - “Yes, yes,” continues Boris Akimov, a successful journalist, content director of a fashionable Moscow magazine, “and homemade chicken meat is a little tougher, but much more saturated in taste. Only after tasting it, you understand what a real chicken should be.”
Both of them are city dwellers who used to go to the countryside only for vacation. “When I was two years old,” says Boris, “my parents bought a house in a village in the Yaroslavl region, where I lived for six months. I really liked it there and never got bored, even as a teenager.” Alexander also often visited his relatives in the Ulyanovsk region, saw how the farm was run.
Several years ago, they began to think that life in Moscow did not suit them. “During my student years,” says Alexander, “I rushed to Moscow, it seemed that all the most important things were concentrated here. Nightlife, entertainment, people. And then, when a family and children appeared, it became clear that it was impossible to live here.” “And it’s impossible to eat,” Boris picks up. - After all, now we have a new food shortage. Store shelves are filled with low-quality products. And even if you have money, you can't go out and buy good fresh meat - just the right one. Maybe in an expensive store there will be a spatula from New Zealand, and nothing else. Why? Yes, because it is unprofitable for shops to work with farmers, it is easier for them to bring this very spatula by plane and limit themselves to this. In the most hyped stores, food "boutiques", their whole delicacy line is that they brought one type of ham from Italy. And if they have veal today, they won't have lamb, and vice versa.”
These two ideas - the desire to live outside of Moscow and eat quality food - resulted in Boris and Alexander's idea of creating an eco-village, which will become, on the one hand, a place for the production of clean products, and, on the other hand, an object of agro-tourism, where you can will come and live a real village life. They began to write business plans, look for investors, look for land. It turned out that serious funds needed to be invested, therefore, while the search was underway, they started a business selling farm products in parallel.
They started by walking around the market, buying groceries, cooking, tasting. Through trial and error, we figured out who had the best product. Then they contacted suppliers, farmers, began to read special literature, search for experts on the Internet. “Of course, we are still in the process of learning,” they admit, “we can be called laymen. But this is good in a sense, because most of the so-called "food professionals" are corrupted by the system: either the "scoop" or the one that is built around huge food flows. The main thing there is volumes and profits, and quality is already the tenth thing. For us, this is the most important thing.”
So Boris and Alexander gradually formed their own "pool" of suppliers, whose products were tested, or, in other words, eaten. We toured the farms to see with our own eyes how everything is organized, whether the stories do not differ from reality.
"Attachments? We had zero, - Boris laughs, - well, except for gasoline and what we bought for testing, it was very tasty. In April, their online store launched: they launched a page in LiveJournal and began collecting orders for fresh farm lamb, poultry, cottage cheese, milk, vegetables, etc. Information began to spread instantly, calls and letters began to go. In two months, the store acquired its own face - eco-friendly paper bags appeared, and stickers on them with inscriptions like: "Food is the most objective way of knowing the world given to us by God."
“The main thing,” says Boris, “is to present it unusually, to show that everything is done with love. After all, it is clear that many sell chickens and ducks, including through advertising on the Internet: you open a website, it says: "Chickens, ducks" and a phone. But it's worth adding a little creativity, not just selling products, but promoting a fashionable lifestyle, and everything changes. We are campaigning for eating delicious organic food, which is also produced by small industries, which means we do not support large concerns. Here are fashion trends towards natural life, and anti-globalism…”
Twice a week Alexander and Boris deliver orders to addresses. They plan to do this every day - then it will be possible to leave the current job and devote themselves entirely to farming. A month later, after Lavka started working, it had its own enthusiastic admirers, and potential investors among them. The next plans are the opening of not a virtual, but a real store in Moscow.
“All this is not so difficult,” says Alexander, “in order to open a store, you need a package of documents that anyone can collect. In addition, private structures have appeared that do paperwork for you for a reasonable price. The most expensive thing is a license to trade in certain products, it costs from 200 to 300 thousand rubles.”
They plan to leave for the countryside within the next year. Now they are looking for land where they will settle with their families. They want to start production with poultry farming, because it pays off faster, and then switch to livestock farming. Ecotourism is implied as one of the mandatory areas. “In general,” says Boris, “today farming makes sense in several directions at once, for example: farm, shop, ecotourism.”
They are not afraid of life in the provinces. Boris has three children, Alexander has two. They want to settle nearby, do business together. Boris's wife fully supported the idea of moving, while Alexander is persuading his wife. All the “horror stories” about poor education and medicine seem frivolous to them: after all, village guys enter metropolitan institutes, which means that you can learn how to do it. And in general, who said that a rural school is much better than a school in Biryulyovo or Maryino? It all depends, they say, on the family, on the upbringing of the parent. And doctors, from their own experience, are more professional in the provinces, if only because they have less temptation to go to private clinics and more responsibility for each.
“Besides,” explains Boris, “today there is the Internet, which means that I, for example, can continue to do my job. In our editorial office, people work from Boston and at the same time participate in editorial boards using Skype (voice Internet connection - ed. note). So what's stopping me from doing the same from Suzdal?”
“But actually,” he adds, “there is another argument in favor of what we are doing. In the life of every person there comes a moment when he is visited by doubt about the need for what he earns money with. So do we. We realized that we can live without magazines. And without IT-technologies, in principle, too. And you can't live without food.”
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