I remember the first time visiting the TsUM in Kyiv. It was in May or June 1994. The TsUm is short for Central Universal Shop (or Central Department Store). These Soviet style stores are still popular where they still exist.
The first time I visited the store, I felt like I had just found the shop of all shops in Ukraine. At the time I lived in Lugansk, in far eastern Ukraine and we didn’t have a shop that offered all the variety that the TsUM did in Kyiv. I remember buying all kinds of stuff not available in Lugansk.
After my introduction to this department store, each and every time I visited Kyiv from Lugansk, I made a point to go to the TsUM to see if there was anything I needed from there. I also remember that most of the old escalators didn’t work and most of the time, only the ones going up were on.
A year later, I found out that another shop, called the Ukraina, existed. It was there that I found a pair of hiking boots for some ridiculous low price. A funny side note, my friend Dima and I stopped at a kiosk outside the store to get something to eat and I placed my bag with my shoes on the ground to pay. We walked off and after a couple of minutes I realized I didn’t have my bag. We ran back to the kiosk and thankfully, my bag was still sitting where I had left it!
This morning, I read online where the TsUM has closed for major renovations and won’t re-open until late 2014. Here are the details. It is sad that this landmark has closed. When I arrived in Kyiv in 2003 I remember going to the store and realized it wasn’t the inexpensive shop that it used to be. Most clothing had become expensive.
Now with a new mall going to open up in the spot, I am sure, with it being on the main street of Kyiv, prices will become even more unaffordable. But I am sure I will ultimately visit the new mall, if nothing else, to see what was left unchanged and to see whether or not the escalators are working!