Half-empty shelves and tears from loyal customers and sellers marked the last working day of Kyiv Central Department Store, or TSUM, before it closed for almost three years reconstruction starting Feb.1.
The decision to renovate the 70-year-old Soviet style relic and turn it into a modern shopping mall came from its new owner, ESTA Holding, which is a part of the System Capital Management group, owned by Ukraine’s richest man and lawmaker, Rinat Akhmetov.
The new owner plans to build additional sales space in the yard but promises to keep front walls, built in 1939, and historical title. Apart from different boutique, renewed TSUM will fit a supermarket, restaurants and cafes.
“ESTA Holdings aims to return TSUM its title of the main department store of the country,” says Maksim Gromadtsov, company’s investment director. TSUM is a Ukrainian acronym for central store department store of the city.
At the same time, Kyivans who loved old-style building and understand that the premium class will mean premium prices, dropped into the TSUM to say goodbye.
“I remember when I was 14 my parents and I came here and they bought me my first expensive outfit. I remember everything. It was a beige spring coat,” a 60-year-old Kyivan Lidiya Kapula reminds. She came to TSUM on Jan. 31 to buy a warm waistcoat. As usually she went straight to the fourth floor where woman clothes are sold for many years but suddenly found out that that would be probably her last purchase here.
“I am really upset that it closes now,” she says going to the cash desk not taking out the new outfit.
Kyivan Halyna Ivanova already knew the news when she came to the TSUM.
“I almost grew up here, if one can say so. I spent my free time here with my friends,” says 60-year-old woman. “Almost all my clothes are bought here.”
If clients to find new places for shopping soon, long-term TSUM saleswomen will hardly find a better job. “I had been working at TSUM for 35,” says Iryna, 51, who was fired few years before retirement. “Who will need me now? Employers do not pay attention on your experience now, they look at your age and whether you have long legs,” she says with tears in her eyes.
Kyiv TSUM was famous for a rather polite staff, goods by rare Ukrainian producers and its layout, which had not been changed for years. Therefore regular customers always knew that toys, men’s and women’s shoes, including scarce small sizes, could be found on the second floor, good quality men’s suits on the third floor, goods for woman on the fourth and housing stuff on the fifth. The renovated departent store, due to open in autumn 2014, will be another sign that the era of Soviet-style shopping centers is slipping further away..
(Photos by Kostyantyn Chernichkin)