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R-kioski shopkeeper returns to Helsinki Airport after more than ten years – “I decided that if there was ever a chance to run my own shop, I would take it”

Article published
7.3.2022 at 11:34
R-kioskin kauppias Matti Muikku myymälänsä edessä
People & Aviation
Shopkeeper Matti Muikku dreamed of opening his own kiosk at Helsinki Airport for a long time. Now he runs two R-kioskis in the airport’s new arrivals hall.

“The airport environment is in a league of its own, one in which the quality of operations must be on point every day of the year. When I worked at R-kioski at the airport about ten years ago, I decided that if there was ever a chance to run my own shop, I would take it,” Muikku reveals.

Helsinki Airport has a total of five R-kioskis, two of which are located in the arrivals hall before security control. Finavia’s aim has been to fill the new commercial premises with services that meet the needs of a diverse customer base.

“Customers in the arrivals hall include both domestic and international passengers, people dropping them off and the thousands of employees in the area,” says Muikku.

According to Muikku, serving the airport’s customer base requires a person with a shop to have solid commercial skills and the ability to think proactively:

“Our days consist of many diverse situations and interesting people, not forgetting to mention the wonderful employees,” Muikku adds.

Couple runs the kiosks in the airport’s gate area

Shopkeepers Heidi and Tuomo Hämäläinen started running three R-kioskis in the gate area already in 2014.

“Many people wonder how we are able to put up with each other 24 hours a day,” Heidi Hämäläinen says with a laugh.

“We come up with our best ideas on ordinary days, and it’s easy to offload your stress as the other person knows what you’re going through. Of course, we do talk shop at home; however, at work, we’re colleagues, while at home, we’re a couple.”

The gate area for long-haul flights sells both warm meals and sparkling wine.

“While people travelling to the UK buy coffee and sandwiches, those arriving in Finland from Asia want warm food. We know our customers well,” Hämäläinen says.

The couple describes Helsinki Airport as a vibrant and international place. World events can be seen in the everyday life of the airport.

“When you run your own shop, you are required to deal with the big picture, while also have perseverance and courage. When the COVID‑19 pandemic hit air travel, we decided to make sure that at least the few passengers and those working at the airport could receive service. Their commitment to us is a comfort every day,” Hämäläinen says.

“Someone once said that you can leave the airport, but the airport won’t leave you. This is probably true,” says Hämäläinen.

Read more about shops and restaurants at Helsinki Airport