Shops "Birch" in the USSR
Were there high-quality imported and own products in the USSR during the period of “developed socialism”? The short answer was. In more detail - not everywhere, not at all, but they were.
One of the main legitimate channels for acquiring these products (and things, even cars) was the Vneshposyltorg network, more familiar in the RSFSR, like the shops of Birch.
In other republics, they bore other names associated with the tree characteristic of the republic (for example, in Ukraine they were called Chestnut, in Azerbaijan - Chinar, etc.), while in Latvia they were called Dzintars (Latvian. Dzintars "Amber").
These shops traded for currency, but the Soviet citizens were forbidden to have currency strictly. Therefore, fellow citizens working abroad received wages to accounts in Vnesheconombank, and they were given checks on their hands, various systems such as type A, cruise, and seafarers. For different types of checks there were specific stores, for example, in Riga for sailors - the store "Albatross". Checks of the type “D” were considered the most privileged, as they were traded in foreign currency stores, on par with dollars, pounds, marks.The denomination of checks was indicated in rubles, but in fact the rate to the ordinary ruble on the "black market" was 1: 2-1: 3.
In the song of V. Vysotsky “I am the most non-drinker of all men” (1968), about a visit by a rural resident of the capital, the main character describes a visit to the shop “Birch”:
... But why am I empty to go back?
But here I came across the goods.
- What is your currency? - they say.
- Do not be afraid, - I say, - not dollars!
So, piss off me mahry,
In-law will die without caviar,
Test, they say, you give perfume for opohmelki,
Two daughters-in-law don't care
Husband sister - wine,
Well, and to me, this is yellow in a plate.
I do not remember about the pounds, about the sterling of words,
Smitten by terrible conjecture.
Why did I then shed my blood,
Why did you eat that list on eight sheets,
Why do I need rubles for the lining ...
In early January 1988, the USSR Government announced the elimination of the trading system for checks, during the campaign “to combat privileges” and “for social justice” (this was one of the processes of Perestroika and Glasnost), and the Berozok network was liquidated. At the same time, there was an excessive demand and huge queues - the owners of the checks tried to get rid of them by any means before the date of the announced closing.
In 1988–1992, trade in the former “Birches” check was carried out via a cashless system, and later both Biroz systems merged and traded only for cash currency. In the mid-1990s, the privatized store chain Berezka was liquidated as unprofitable.