«Stockan kello» (Stocka’s clock) has become a Helsinki symbol as well as a popular meeting place. It’s not a case if this clock is at the main entrance of the Northen Europe’s largest department store: Stockmann. Entering the building, in more than 50.000 square meters of shopping space across ten floors, visitors can find fashion brands, cosmetics, design, souvenirs and much more. Founded in 1862, it has nothing to envy to Harrods in London or Galleries Lafayette in Paris. Stockmann Helsinki Centre is the biggest one among the six stores in Finland’s major cities and local department stores in the Estonian capital Tallinn, and the Latvian capital Riga.
Thanks to a wide selection of products, this store has become a hub for luxury brands and tops the category also in terms of sales. Its logo, which represents a set of escalators, is nowadays known worldwide. As specialty stores have taken hold in recent years, Stockmann has been keeping up. Since 2017, the department store includes a number of shop-in-shop departments and services. Above the main items one can find in a similar place, Stockmann goes a step further. Seventh floor, for instance, is mainly dedicated to beauty and wellness with beauty salons, natural products shops, nailcare studios, hairdressers, dental care, and skin & esthetics.
From sushi to pizza, the store hosts also a good selection of café and restaurants, mainly located at floor one (but also at the very top of the building). Not to mention the espresso house, for those who fancy a coffee break while shopping. But, at Stockmann, there is something for everyone: if you like plants, for example, first floor – where flowers shops are located – and fifth floor – with a gardening department – become essential stops. Sixth floor, on the other hand, is dedicated to children, toys and sports. With all these options, the store attracts tourists and, as a result, is visited by millions of customers every year.
It does not come as a surprise if this store is celebrated for its services: placed at eighth floor, Stockmann’s Visitor Center gives you advice on tax free matters and fills in tax free claims for you in different languages. International customers have also the possibility to order products through the «Export Service», that ships items both to Finland and abroad. In this case, products will be delivered from the sales department to the export service, where clients can later pay for both the products and the shipping. But, first of all, as a tourist, you are entitled to get a discount voucher to 10 per cent on all your regular priced purchases on one day of your choosing.
It was 1852 when Heinrich Georg Franz Stockmann of Lübeck arrived in Finland to work as a bookkeeper and cashier at the Nuutajärvi Glassworks. Seven years later, the glassware opened a shop in Helsinki with him as shop manager. In 1862, Stockmann took control of the business, which he, from the outset, had managed in his own name. Twenty years later, Stockmann opened his grand new premises – the so-called «continental department store» – in a building that he had acquired along the Senate Square. At present, the building is known as the Kiseleff bazar.
From 1911, Stockmann gradually acquired ownership of its present department store block in the city-centre of Helsinki. Initially, a two-storey brick building designed by Sigurd Frosterus was constructed at the corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Keskuskatu. Fifteen years later, a new department store building still designed by this Finnish architect was opened on four floors. But the gem of this empire – Stockmann Helsinki Centre – was inaugurated in 1930, with a design in nordic Art Deco style. It has been expanded and renovated several times, completing the last major change in 2010.
Stockmann Helsinki Centre is part of the original Gazelle block in the district of Kluuvi, not far away from the Senate Square where the main businesses of the founder had their premises. The venue is nestled in the heart of Helsinki, only a few minutes away from central railway station. The area is known for its modern vibes, theatres, shopping venues (there are as well Kluuvi shopping centre and Sokos department stores) and restaurants. At the same time, it represents the commercial soul of the city. The main offices of Finnish banks are located there and the district experiences a concentration of jobs. Same goes for the university. Interesting to know that this name which means gloe lake – a bay closed up, as it was originally the district before becoming swamp – is not used by citizens. Helsinkians usually refer to the area as «keskusta» (the centre) or «ydinkeskusta» (the core centre).