THUNDER BAY, ON ----- June 18, 2010 ------The Finnish Book Store/Kitchen Nook is located in the heart of the City’s most vibrant business district. The business has been in the Koskiniemi family since 1963 when Richard’s grandparents bought the present building. The business has been in the family ever since.
In the early days the store sold mostly books written in Finnish for the local immigrant population. With several boarding houses and a large Finnish population living in the near neighbourhood, this has turned out to be an excellent location for the Koskiniemi family. Today the business has changed a great deal from what it was. Yes you can still find a book written in Finnish, but there are many more books telling stories about Finland, or Finish culture but now written in English. The bulk of the Finnish immigrant population living in the city are now second and third generation. It is easier for parents to give their children a little Fin culture in the language they use at school.
The book store also features a selection of books by local authors, further adding to the Thunder Bay flavour of this business.
Apart from the busy Christmas season, the summer wedding season is the most important for this shop. The bridal registry kept at the store allows friends of the bride and groom to select stylish contemporary gifts to wish newlyweds a long and prosperous future. The gift store is full of elegant contemporary pottery by Ross, and the upstairs dinnerware salon reflects the taste of our modern Finnish community. Richard Koskiniemi says “This (Bay & Algoma business area) is the place in Thunder Bay that city people bring their friends to show them something that they cannot find in any other Canadian city. He took the time to point out the many new businesses that have recently opened in the Bay and Algoma area as proof that it is the most vibrant business environment in the city. “Business is good here because people live in the local area.” It is a true neighbourhood”, he said.
The Kitchen Nook occupies the second half of the business. I first entered the store looking for a cherry-pitter, and sure enough they offered me a selection of devices. The Kitchen Nook is Marlene Koskiniemi’s domain. The store is just full of all the gadgets and tools that an accomplished chef could ask for.
It’s quiet in the summer, but from September to April the upstairs cooking studio becomes a busy place. The cooking studio has room for about 12 guests and the classes are co-ordinated by Marlene. She brings in well known local chefs as guests. In this way each class becomes a special event as well as a great evening out. I wouldn’t be surprised that some couples who attended these classes also had their names on the bridal registry a year or so later. There is nothing like good food and good company to bring people together.
The gifts in this store reflect Thunder Bay, and most are intended to last a lifetime, in use in a home where good food, and good company and healthy living is practiced daily. There are many good gift stores in Thunder Bay, but a purchase from the Finnish Book Store is more than a gift, it is an investment in elegant living.