The Story of Jalava’s ShopMikko Jalava

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Founded in 1883 in Taivalkoski, Jalava’s Shop is the oldest one in Finland and has a long and rich history. Since the early days of practicing trade with rubles, marks and also with squirrel hides, Jalava has been a busy shop and a gathering place for local villagers and visitors from all over the world. Currently we use Euros of course, with both cash and debit cards in usage, but the old-time atmosphere has not changed – in Jalava you can truly feel like you have stepped back in time.

But back to the start; Our shop was founded in 1883 by a travelling Karelian merchant and farmer Stephan Jakowleff and his first wife Hedvig. Stephan came from a long line of merchants and his family had shops in Karelia too. Jalava was at first a wholesale-shop, but it has evolved greatly since then. When Stephan started missing his home in Karelia in 1907, he left the shop to his sons Nikolai and Mikko. They bought and sold all kinds of usage items, river pearls and animal skins, and traded goods as far away as Saint Petersburg and Stockholm.

During the First World War Nikolai and Mikko were enlisted to fight in the Russian army because of their citizenships. After the war Nikolai and his family applied for and got citizenships of Finland, and because of that they changed their family name to Jalava, which means an elm in English. In the twenties and thirties several expansions were made to the shop premises. During that time  ’Matkalaisenpirtti’, which roughly translates to a wayfarer’s cabin and which Finns might know from Kalle Päätalo’s books, was also built. In those days travel times were long and customers came to the village center only a few times a year to shop the necessities. Matkalaistenpirtti offered a place for them to spend a night in, and continue home the next day. Bread and pastries were baked in a huge old oven that still stands in the corner of the café. Accommodation was free but coffee and food was sold for those who did not bring their own.

All was well until the Second World War, when all civilians were evacuated from the area and German soldiers took over the shop and founded their headquarters there. When the German troops backed off, they left most of Taivalkoski’s village centre unburned, including the shop.

After the wars trade continued with Nikolai as the head until his death in 1960s. After that his sons Janne and Kalle began running the shop together, selling clothing and all kinds of useful little knick-knacks, but also berries, animal hides and fish.

After that Janne’s son Ari and his wife Airi wanted to renew the café activity in the ’Matkalaisenpirtti’. First it only ran in July, but after the success it grew into year-round activity. After that, in 1997, a new wing was built to accompany the café. Currently Ari’s son Mikko and his wife Laura work as the heads of the store. And if you quickly do the math, you will know that they are already the fifth generation to run Jalava’s Shop!


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Written by Anna-Pieta Kokko and Laura Jalava