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Money has No Smell or the Most Stable Business in Russia
August 16, 2007 12:46


Lack of outhouses seems to be a weak spot of any modern city including Moscow, since all us sometimes or quite frequently feel the necessity to visit a water closet, and in case it is not around, some forget the shame and “commit hooliganism” entailing fines.

To understand how this kind of business works in the Russian capital, you should drink a couple of bottles of beer while walking and wait for a while. If you are in the centre of a city, finding a water closet will hardly become a problem and 10-15 rubles (40-60 cents) will let you in. Generally about 2 million people a day use portable toilets in Moscow, which makes the business quite profitable.

At the end of the 1970s Moscow had only 200 public outhouses or one “seat” for 3000 Muscovites and visitors. Prior to the Olympic Games of 1980 the city authorities put into operation several more dozens of water closets. That was the first time ever when first portable toilets directly connected to the sewerage system appeared near stadiums and malls. People could breathe freely.

However, perestroika adversely affected the number of stationary toilets in the city: most of them were given to newly born private entrepreneurs. The first pay-toilet functioned at the Byelorussian railway station in the centre of Moscow in 1989 and cost 10 kopecks. Later the country faced total “toiletisation” with mass additional services like classical music in water closets and providing visitors with shoes and cloth brushes.

 A bit later the brand-new businessmen realized that the rooms they had as toilets could have been used differently and bring bigger profits. Many of them turned into restaurants and commercial shops, which were of no help for citizens looking for water closets. In 1996 it was much easier to find a striptease bar or a Japanese restaurant in Moscow than an outhouse. The authorities familiar with the situation carried out an experiment. A trial consignment of plastic portable toilets was acquired in the USA and leased to entrepreneurs, who found this business profitable.

The most welcomed audience for the Russian toilet businessmen is builders; they are 70% of all clients. There are about 3.5 thousand development and construction companies operating now in Moscow and St Petersburg, and each of them requires at least 15 water closets for a building site. Long term lease means a lot in this business, particularly in winter, when the temperature goes down to 30 degrees Centigrade below zero.

The portable toilet cabins occasionally suffer from vandals, who break walls, wrest doors open or simply turn the cabins upside down, though an empty toilet unit weighs at least 80 kg and a full one is three or four times heavier. Sometimes Russian enterprising citizens force locks after the cabin is closed in the evening, sit down at the water closets with a toilet roll and get money from late visitors. The cabins can be stolen or used as a sleeping place by homeless people.

Nevertheless, businessmen believe nothing can prevent the toilet market from growing. In some time portable water closets will fall into oblivion and will be replaced with comfortable stationary toilets, but till that moment the entrepreneurs can be sure in their income.

Sources:

    www.point.ru

 

Olga Pletneva


Tags: Russian business     

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