The 1960’s, the Central Department Store, and Successful Soviet Consumerism: The Case of Tallinna Kaubamaja – Tallinn’s “Department Store”

By Brent McKenzie.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 9, pp.41-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 602.094KB).

Dr. Brent McKenzie

Associate Professor, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, College of Management and Economics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Brent McKenzie’s main research interests are in the areas of retail service quality and shopping behaviour, international consumer behaviour and culture, and marketing metrics. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Dr. McKenzie has a special interest in the countries of the former Soviet Union, in particular the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. He has engaged in extensive research fieldwork, and conducted a number of workshops and presentations in these countries. He has also presented numerous research papers at North American and international conferences, and published his work in a number of academic and practitioner journals.


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