Czechoslovakia- Communist supermarkets

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous (Czech-Related)' started by thebig C, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. thebig C

    thebig C Well-Known Member

    Hey gang! :)

    I am back with more questions. One of my interests is supermarkets....I know....I'm weird! :lol:

    Anyway, I was wondering if there were supermarkets in Communist Czechoslovakia. I have heard of Kotva and Jednota, but, I understand they were more like Department stores.

    In East Germany, there was a chain called "Kaufhalle" which were large self-service stores, comparable to western supermarkets. Did Czechoslovakia have anything similar?

    Many thanks

  2. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    Essentially there were no supermarkets in Czechoslovakia (before 1990).

    There were the self-service shops (groceries).
    There were also the department stores (Kotva, Bílá labuť, Máj, Perla,...).

    But some self-service shops (groceries) were big enough (for instance those in Kotva or Máj).

    So you must define the difference between self-service shop (= samoobsluha in Czech) and supermarket.
  3. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    No, there were no supermarkets.

    In the country, there was typically only one grocery store or variety store per village. They all were of similar architecture:


    In the towns, there were older grocery stores (or new stores addapted in older houses). There were no stores on the perimeter of the town like the today’s supermarkets. In the districts with new apartment houses there were one-floor groceries similar to the stores in the country, or a complex with one grocery store and some others services. There was always only one store per one area - no competition.

    In bigger towns there were Department stores, either from the pre-war era (like Bílá Labuť) or some newer buildings mostly from the 70’s or 80’s. The latter were mostly called Prior or Máj.
  4. thebig C

    thebig C Well-Known Member

    Hey Bibax and Wer

    Thanks for replying so quickly. :D

    Yes, I understand there were no supermarkets in the modern sense that we know them today. I really meant self service stores that were larger the a corner/local shop.

    Exactly like the pictures you posted Wer! :)

    What I would like to know, were these buildings simply built individually or did a national organisation run them all under a trading name?

  5. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    Hey, where do you come from? Are you a Martian? :roll:

    There were only few "companies" that ran them.
    But I am affraid, the only "national organisation" that ran them all was the organisation known under its trademark KSČ (for Martians :) : it means the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia).

    All other organisations were merely gearing-levers.

    Are you interested in the names of the gearing-levers? :?

    For Scrimshaw: Jedinou organisací, která řídila náš život, byla KSČ. Její vedoucí role byla zakotvena v Ústavě Československé socialistické republiky. Všechny ostatní instituce (včetně presidenta, vlády, soudů, armády,...), organisace a podniky byly jen převodovými pákami a páčkami komunistické strany. Vedoucí úloha KSČ byla z Ústavy vypuštěna v prosinci 1989.
  6. thebig C

    thebig C Well-Known Member

    :p I am from Ireland not Mars!!

    I am aware that KSC was the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. was simply wondering did the State Enterprise that was in control of those shops run them under a particular brand or without branding. I cited the East German example, the shops there were likewise controled by the Party of Socialist Unity (SED) but the State Enterprise that ran them used the name Kaufhalle.

  7. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    Well, there were some brands, for instance above mentioned Prior.
    But who would care? :lol:

    More interesting, there were also cooperative chains (for example Jednota/Unity and Včela/Bee) with members who had share in profit. :shock:
    But the concept of the cooperatives was one huge swindle (švindl in Czech :) ). The Cooperative Association was merely a branch office of the KSČ.
  8. thebig C

    thebig C Well-Known Member

    Thanks Bibax

    Yes, I was interested in the brands so I could look up the kinds of Architecture they used etc :D

    So the co-operatives were a swindle?? I have heard after the events of 1968 that corruption and cycicism became pretty bad in Czechoslovakia. But, you are not the only ones....its bad in Ireland too......and we were free of Communism:)

  9. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    The problem was that the communist brand names were silly and without any tradition, few people really used them. They were completely needless and futile.

    There were also some pre-war traditional brands like already mentioned Jednota and Včela, but the Jednota and Včela cooperatives were "nationalised" after 1948 and became a strange hybrid with members but controlled by the Party. Who was the owner of such cooperatives? Nobody knew.

    Maybe you know that the communists hated Baťa so much that they tried to wipe out his name. The Baťa works were renamed to Svit (= Shine/Glare) and his native city Zlín itself became Gottwaldov after the first communist president. But their effort was unsuccessful. Baťa's department store on the Wenceslas Square and other Baťa shops were always called "Baťa" by common people.

    Another example: Brouk & Babka Department Stores (see Wiki).
    As a child I always wondered why my mother used to say "Brouk a babka". In Czech it sounds really funny. It means "The Beetle and The Maybug". In fact Brouk and Babka were the surnames of the former owners.
  10. thebig C

    thebig C Well-Known Member


    Very interesting that the Communist names never entered common parlance. I knew they used some prewar names such as Skoda and Tatra.

    I did hear about the Bata issue. I know a Czech girl from Zlin who lives in Dublin....who would have been born in Gottwaldov:)

  11. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    Don't be naive! :lol:

    The Škoda Works company was renamed Závody Vladimíra Iljiče Lenina (Vladimir Ilich Lenin Plants) after 1948. But since the new name caused losses of sales abroad :D , the name was changed back to Škoda Works in 1953.
  12. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Under communism, private ownership of means of production was not allowed (with exception of late 80’s under Přestavba), thus the only existing private sector were the free professions (artists and the like). Officially, collective ownership was allowed as a kind of pseudoprivate ownership, but in fact it was only instrument of violent collectivization.
    Formally, Jednotas were collectively owned chains. There was typically one Jednota per district.

    They did, only the old names were not wiped out.

    Pupák: “Well, they ask here… comrade P. asks. What is it, the directed democracy? Well, comrade P., that’s a democracy where the people holds the power through the elected authorities.”

    Krchov: “Yes, that's how I would say it. I would add only, with your permission comrade Pupák, that the elected authories are then directed by the appointed authorities and the appointed authorities are directed by the comrade authorities.

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