4 Inside the Soviet stores (photos).

Inside the Soviet stores (photos).


Recently I was reviewing old photographs from the times of Soviet life, and most of all I’m interested in photos of people’s lives – houses, apartments, interiors, clothing, food and so on. It is very interesting to watch at shops – at the showcases and at the principles of interaction between the seller and the buyer.

Only 25 years passed after the fall of the Soviet Union, but it seems like an eternity had passed – so all that was then, is different from the one that we have now.

So, in this post we look at the photos of Soviet stores and see how they were different from today.

First, let’s look at the showcases. For example, a showcase of “manufactured goods” in one of the Soviet stores, there are exposed plates, pans sets, mechanical grinders, as well as aluminum ladles and skimmers – which were probably in every Soviet apartment. Meat grinders were in each one, as the cutlet was often the only dish that can be prepared from the bad store meat.

There were no “food processors” in the Soviet Union – only in the late Soviet 70-80th primitive juicers, blenders and electric coffee machines appeared.

And this is a showcase of the product department. For some reason, there were often built huge pyramids of cans with canned food – apparently, it was considered beautiful. Personally, I remember very well these tin pyramids in the windows of the Minsk shop “Ocean” at the intersection of the avenue and Kozlov Street. The most common were canned fish.

Inside the fish department. Generally fish – was probably the only thing that was more or less stable, you could buy it in the stores during the Soviet era, even in periods of scarcity on the shelves there was canned and frozen pollack. Also in fish departments, there was sold seaweed, which I still can’t stand.


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4 Responses to “Inside the Soviet stores (photos).”

  1. L R Tuggle says:

    I remember so well my first trip to Moscow in 1968. I worked for Pan Am – everyone assumed I was British because they had never seen an American. The utter shock to my system when I saw the level of daily living that was not much better than Third World countries I had visited (and the Russian people I talked to said that Moscow got the best of everything -elsewhere it was REALLY poor). Shabby, cheap looking clothes -virtually no private cars -long lines for every store (the nice people would insist that I, as a foreigner, go to the front of the line) and once you got inside they were almost empty. I wanted to get a watch with Cyrillic characters as a souvenir so I went to the GUM store (which I was told was the largest store in Russia) Huge beautiful building – lots of people shopping. In the USA you could go into any department store, drug store,or even a grocery market and there would be 15-25 different watches available. A jewelry store or a large store like Macy’s would have 100’s. At the GUM store, there were THREE types available – THREE! And, if you wanted a band for the watch, you had to go to another department and they were sold out. I never got over the shock of realizing that these were the people we were terrified of -who we were told by our media and government were ahead of us in space, medicine, education and military power and that we were going to have to spend enormous amounts of tax money to “catch up’ to them. We were then at the peak of the American way of life and these people were living like western Europe in 1948. I came home a lot less likely to believe what I was told until I saw it for myself.

    • Samuel says:

      The 60, 70, early 80s weren’t bad though, some of the pictures show empty shelves, that’s late 80s, early 90s.
      The problem was that they had all the technology, many things of a better quality than anywhere else in the world, but you couldn’t mass produce it, so nobody build factories and nobody had anything.

  2. Rick says:

    You know… while I am on the other side of the globe I wen’t to an old drug store a few days back, the kind that still has wood shelves and you order the stuff you want from the clerk, these are also the kind to have stuff that other big brand drug stores don’t… it was a blast from the past to be sincere, the clerk was respectful, packed everything and I was on my way. I actually felt like a human being instead of another number going in and out of the door.

  3. RB says:

    There is a story of when Yeltsin went the US to visit. They said he ran away from the tour people and went into a grocer store. He wanted to see what the US was like away from government people. He was astonished at how many things were on the shelves inside.He asked his men to find out how many different things they had there. He was told sixteen thousand different things,he didn’t believe it and thought it was one thousand six hundred. He saw how you can scan the food with the laser when you pay and he was amazed. Someone who was with him on the plane home said he never stopped talking about the store and that he was just shaking his head. He said he had a headache from all of it and was angry at Moscow because he was told everything had already been invented. He saw what was available in the west and it made a huge impression on him.
    I found the story fascinating and I wish I could hear it again.

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