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Finnish store chain refuses to stock Tom of Finland stamps

Finnish store chain refuses to stock Tom of Finland stamps

Despite the Finnish Postal Service, Itella, revealing that its new Tom of Finland stamps have been the best-selling in its history – with advance orders from people in 178 different countries ahead of the stamps going on sale this week – not everyone in Finland has embraced them.

The country’s Halpa-Halli chain of department stores has just announced that it will not be selling the stamps in any of its 38 stores, indicating that they were not compatible with the management’s Christian beliefs.

The stores – which also remain closed on Sundays and don’t sell alcohol or tobacco – sell other stamps but will not be stocking the Tom of Finland collection.

‘The stamps do not unfortunately represent our values,’ said CEO Janne Ylinen. ‘We have had a great deal of supportive feedback from our customers over our decision… and we don’t want to offend our customers by stocking the stamps.

‘This is not a political move, but one related to our product strategy, in which we are respecting our customers’ peace of mind. We don’t want to unnecessarily provoke people in areas where we have stores.’

Mikko Väisänen, a spokesperson for Finland’s biggest LGBT organization, SETA, said that he was ‘amazed’ by the decision and called upon the company to reconsider.

He said that Tom of Finland was one of the country’s most distinguished and internationally well-known artits, alongside Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomin books for children.

The set of three stamps commemorate the work of the late, Finnish erotic artist, Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), who worked under the moniker Tom of Finland. Two feature extracts from a drawing of a muscular, uniformed man with a naked man sat between his legs, and the other feature a man’s face peeking out from underneath another man’s naked behind.

In a separate development, Finnish news agency Yle has sent parcels and letters plastered with the stamps over the border to neighbouring Russia in an effort to see whether the stamps contravene Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws.

A spokesperson said, ‘We wanted to test how the Russian postal service and customs would respond to the stamps.’

At the time of writing, the packages were still in transit to Moscow and St Petersburg, but the agency is announcing the progress of the packages via the #TomofRussia hashtag on Twitter.