Markets from Move2Armenia and their connection with the TUF bar. Extensive interview with brand manager Anastasia Akshova - Move2Armenia

Markets from Move2Armenia and their connection with the TUF bar. Extensive interview with brand manager Anastasia Akshova

Markets from Move2Armenia and their connection with the TUF bar. Extensive interview with brand manager Anastasia Akshova

If you live in Yerevan, you have not missed out on city markets with goods from representatives of small creative businesses. You might even have purchased a beaded necklace, a vintage T-shirt, or a handmade mug. Also, while walking along Arama Street after March 2022, you looked into the bar TUF. It turns out that these metropolitan phenomena are connected. In place of TUF in December will appear Move2Market.

We learned from Anastasia Akshova, junior managing partner, co-founder of Move2Market and brand manager of Move2Armenia, where markets even came from, what they are and how they are connected to many people’s favorite bar.

Nastya, let’s tell you step by step how markets came into your life and the life of Yerevan. How did it all begin?
In Moscow, my life was connected with creative spaces, local clothing brands, the advertising industry, and events. I really missed you Bakery No. 9 and other creative clusters and tried to find something similar in Yerevan, some large space with many brands. I had the idea to gather all the creators in one place. At least in pop-up format.

In March 2022, I met Vadim Matyash, the founder of the TUF bar, and we even held a dinner party together in the guys’ yard. I suggested organizing a market - the bar’s courtyard and its atmosphere were perfect. It turned out that Vadim was also thinking about this, so he quickly agreed.

How did you prepare for the first event?
To find market participants, I looked at accounts on social networks and marks from local bloggers. I realized that the market is not yet familiar with the format of markets that have been made in Russia for more than five years. I had to explain that this is not a handicraft exhibition like Vernissage, that our event is stylish, cool, with music, food, guests there will relax with the whole family, and brands will collaborate. Participation was free.

Were there any refusals, or did all brands agree?
Basically everyone got knocked up. It seems there were refusals, but not many. For example, there was such a funny case. Next to Black Star Burger there is a corner with carpets and vinyl records. I thought, this is sad, it would be great to call them. I didn’t know fashionable vinyl stores back then. She said that putting records on the market is a style, cool. But the middle-aged seller-owner answered me: “Listen, don’t interfere with my business, I won’t interfere with yours either. You are luring me into some nonsense.” And I realized that I was mistaken, this is clearly not our target audience. 

How did everything go?
In two weeks, we organized the first Backyard market in our backyard. It took place on May 8th, more than 30 brands participated: wine Khme, The Main Design Store, Hoja, Boogie, Biserka, Lumen Coffee, Antarber Vintage, Bow-x, Vintabilia, Ochre and others. It was great, DJs, guests with children and dogs, street food. Even the rain didn't stop us.

Photo: Facebook Move2Market

Did you see other markets at that moment?
I can’t say that nothing happened at all, but I haven’t seen anything like this in Armenia.

The guys from Antarber Vintage we were told that this was generally the best they had been involved in, even though we put the event together without a budget in two weeks. Such feedback motivated me to move on.

Over time, more organizers began to hold events. For example, there was a market at a daytime techno rave from Luchshe and the project "Bridge", and there was also Hoope market.

Although competitors appeared, did you continue to organize events?
Yes, then there was a two-day market, which placed 60-70 brands in two yards - TUF and a coworking space The look. Plus there was a lecture hall on the second floor. I remember that brands ran from the site to listen, leaving someone at the table. We also had DJs playing, photographers working, and there was a zone for children with a whole “menu of activities.”

The red line through each event goes our principle is that we are not only about markets, but also about a community of brands, so that they create something together, and about a place where guests can have a great time, and not just buy goods. Here people spend two or three hours, eat and drink, buy gifts, learn something new, get inspired, and it helps everyone. It should always be about benefits and new experiences.

Photo: Facebook Move2Market

How did Move2Armenia become associated with markets?
On June 1, 2022, I joined the Move2Armenia team as a brand manager and proposed to create a market together so that it could grow from a hobby into a larger-scale project. We liked the idea, we took my work on brands and implementation experience as a basis and went to look for sites for Armarket.

What kind of sites were there in the end, what happened on them?
In December 2022, the market was held at the cultural center HayArt, and in March - at the Seasons restaurant. There were lecture halls, DJs, a food court, a market, large-scale decor, master classes, a chill zone, and an exhibition. About 100 relocant, repatriate and local brands have always participated, and for the first time there were even 20 brands from Artsakh.

The preparation was difficult. HayArt did not have sewerage, normal lighting, and there was not enough power outlets for all participants. And in Seasons, although the event turned out to be at the festival level, the venue was not cheap. As a result, the first market did not pay off, with the second we broke even, but we turned out to be good PR stories.

Photo 1-3: Market in HayArt. Photo 4-6: Market in Seasons

And what conclusions did you come to after large markets?
We decided to open our own cool large venue, such a permanent market, but at the same time continue events once a season.

But you didn't do them anymore, as far as I know.
Yes that's right. In parallel, other companies, like Armenian Food Bank, TourHisto, Ket.Mar.Ket, started doing markets too often. There was a lot of mixed feedback from guests and brands: the effectiveness of events fell, traffic decreased, it was no longer a “fun way to spend a day off.” And the idea of organizing a large market fell off.

But we set up an experiment to understand what a multi-brand store is. We brought 40 brands to Gastrofest from a creative agency Time To in Dilijan. We occupied six tents, and it turned out to be a pop-up multi-brand store format.

Photo: Facebook Move2Market

By the way, about the store. How did you search for a “home” for brands?
We searched for a suitable site for a long time and found it in April in the center of Yerevan. We agreed with the architect, they drew a project for us, and we began a dialogue with brands. It was supposed to be a multifunctional site: a large department store, a food court in the style of the Moscow fashionable Depot/Danilovsky Market, and a lecture hall area. But at the very last stage it turned out that it was impossible to carry out ventilation legally and safely.

Photo: approximate 3D model of the planned department store, Anastasia Akshova

And after that you went to the TUF bar?
Yes, at the end of August–beginning of September we learned about the closure of TUF, contacted Vadim and agreed that Move2Market would continue in this space.

There were many different rumors about what would happen to the bar now, what had happened to it. Someone was very upset that their favorite place closed.
Of course, it’s a pity to say goodbye to TUF, but his team has survived and, I hope, will loudly declare itself. But we are not from the bar industry and would not be able to develop a bar. But we have a lot of experience in IT, marketing, social projects, events, communication and educational products, which we will continue to do in the new place.

Vadim and I and mutual friends joke that the market has returned to its roots, and TUF left the stage at the height of his career with fans who love him, like a rock star.

Have you already started implementing your project?
On October 1, we moved in and began large-scale repairs, because communications were in very poor condition. We change everything, right down to the pipes and wires. We want to create a creative multifunctional space for a long time.

Architects - a team from Moscow - work with us online. They have a strong background in improving public spaces, such as Muzeon and Gorky Park, for example.

And we rebranded and are now called Move2Market.

Photo: approximate 3D model of event space, Anastasia Akshova

What will ultimately happen on the site?
This is not the market format that we did, but an almost creative cluster in a mini version. We will launch a multifunctional place for the whole family. The plans are grandiose: the basis, of course, will be the largest gift-shop with 200+ Armenian brands. There we will place jewelry and accessories, home decor, ceramic dishes, art and many other cool things. We will also open a food court, a coffee shop with a bakery and a wine bar with our partners. We will have a convenient platform for workshops, lectures, master classes and generally any events that need space. Even now, while the renovation is underway, I understand how comfortable it will be to stay here. My favorite spot is the outdoor balcony and I love our big windows. You can sit with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with a croissant, go to a department store and buy gifts, stay for Armenian lessons or a history lecture. It will be convenient to come with a dog or a child. This place will be not only for relocants, but also for locals, it is generally for everyone. You can send guests who come to Armenia here, and they will definitely be satisfied and find something interesting for themselves.

I will say separately, Why is the market good for brands? This is a multifunctional platform where they cover several needs. The first is stability in sales with less stress, unlike events. Still, market events exhaust everyone very much. Our starting input is low, that is, brands invest only in production and give us goods for sale. There is no need to pay for rent, employees, advertising and other large business expenses.

The second need to be addressed is a convenient and accessible venue for holding events, and this is another way for income and promotion. There are few such places in Yerevan now.

When will you open the doors for the first guests?
The opening is scheduled for mid-December. The deadlines are tight, but we will do everything in time. Announcements will be on social networks.

We will monitor the development of the new market space and hope that this initiative will allow Armenian brands to reach a new level.

If you are interested in the fate of Move2Market, or you want to place your products on its shelves, go to Facebook and Instagram project.

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Markets from Move2Armenia and their connection with the TUF bar. Extensive interview with brand manager Anastasia Akshova
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