This study provides an overview of the role of the central department store in one Soviet Republic, Estonia, during the period of 1960-1970. Tallinna Kaubamaja, which in English translates to “Tallinn Department Store”, was established in July 1960, and is the oldest department store, and currently the largest department store in terms of sales, in Estonia. This research is based upon access to historical company documents provided to the author; archival research conducted within Estonia; and personal interviews with employees who worked at Tallinna Kaubamaja, during this period.
This is the first known study that has linked the performance of a retail establishment, within the context of the economic policies and regulations of the Soviet economic system during this period. The format of this study involves a short case study in order to contribute to a better understanding of what retail practice, as well as shopping behaviour, was like in a Republic of the Soviet Union during this period. Furthermore, it attempts to show how these activities did, or did not, align with the official economic environment, and governmental policies of the day. This research will address the key questions of how Tallinna Kaubamaja managed to balance both an “Estonian” and “Soviet” retail perspective, and what role Tallinna Kaubamaja played in the day to day lives of consumers in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn during the 1960’s. This examination can allow for greater insight into an often over-looked retail environment and retail period, in shaping of what Khruschev saw as a promise of the growth of consumerism, and an overt effort to educate consumers in the socialist “culture” of shopping (Reid and Crowley, 2000).
|Keywords:||Retail History, Estonia, Soviet Union, Case Study|
Associate Professor, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, College of Management and Economics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
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