Detsky Mir Department Store in Moscow,Russia
Detsky Mir department store is the dream of every child - and it's been like that since the first day it was opened. “Detskiy Mir” stands for "The Children's World" - and the store surely stands up to its reputation!
Built in 1957, it became the biggest toy store in the Soviet Union. Parents from all over the country came there looking for rare toys and clothes - and they always found them. Those things were probably not so special for a foreigner, but if you were a Soviet child – you’d do anything to get them!
You see, back in the USSR we the kids didn’t have a whole lot of choice. All the toys we saw in the shops were mostly produced by the local industry, and hence were grayish and dull. Moscow was the only place that had all the most advanced toys created in the USSR, and Detsky Mir had them all.
However, the store did not only sell Soviet toys, as there were also many foreign brands present. Clothes from Czechoslovakia and Finland, for example, were being sold without any restrictions. Back then, you could only buy those from private “speculants” that were absolutely illegal. Needless to say that people preferred to buy from official retailer and not to mess with the law.
Kids raved about it - and I was no exception. Imagine - during the times of Soviet scarcity and deficit, there was a place where all your dreams would come true. Want a tiny railroad? Here you go. A toy car that looks just like daddy's "Volga"? With pleasure! Remote controlled gas-powered plane? We could think of something. Oh, and that submarine - it can really dive, you know!
I remember there was also that clock. Every hour, the tiny doors on it opened and let out mechanical figurines that moved just like real and made funny sounds. Doesn’t seem like much today, but it was so fascinating back then - especially for a kid! And did I mention the merry-go-round? That's right, there's one just inside the building!
You couldn't have such fun in any other shop - that was the way centralized Soviet economy functioned. But we didn't think in such terms back then, so my poor dad had to take me to the store once in a while if he wanted to keep me quiet!
Ahh, the good old Soviet times. You know, sometimes I even think there was something good about the deficit. You couldn’t always get what you wanted, but if you did – you would be sooooo happy! And if you were a child, you could multiply that by hundred at least, because when my dad was bringing me all those fancy toys – I was so happy I couldn’t remember myself!
The insides of the the store. Wouldn't your kids just love to be there?
Today’s kids are spoiled with abundance. Every little toy shop has loads of all those fancy foreign toys, with couple of dozens of CPUs inside. Sure, they are much more advanced than those I had to play with, but somehow I think that modern children will never get to feel the way I did when I was little…
Things have changed right after Perestroika - the free market and lack of financing almost brought "Detsky Mir" down. No wonder – the entire Soviet economy went down in flames, so it’s easier to count the survivors rather than those who didn’t make it. But – the word “almost” often makes quite a difference, you know…
Detsky Mir had to fight hard to survive those harsh times. Just like any other ex-Soviet store in Moscow, it rented out its space to numerous small businesses in order to generate at least some amount of revenue. There were times when toys occupied only as little as one fifth of the space, while the rest was given away to companies who had nothing to do with toys and children!
However, that sad story had a happy end. At some point the store regrouped, and began fighting back. The store owners realized that they possess the most well-known Russian toy brand, and it just can’t perish. Instead, they began implementing the strategy of all-Russia toy stores network, with Moscow “Detskiy Mir” as the leading one. And it worked!
Yes, that strategy made the store victorious. Just look at it now – it made all the way from neglected Soviet toy store to Russia's biggest toy retail network, with branches all around the country. In fact, today it’s a world-known brand, its partners spread all across the globe – something its Soviet predecessor could only dream about!
When I'm looking at the flourishing store, it's hard to believe it ever suffered from a crisis. These days you'll see a large, spacious building, jam-packed with toys, clothes, baby carriages and anything else you could possibly need when you have a child!
As I said, Detsky Mir has partners from all across the world these days, so you won’t have any problems buying there even the most exotic toys and clothes. In theory there may be something you won’t find there, but if that’s your case – rest assured you won’t find it anywhere else in Russia and probably abroad.
…better look for something else
Times have changed, the deficit is gone is gone for good - and nearly every shopping mall, even the smallest one, has some kind of kids department. That's not to mention monsters like "Savenok", which is probably Moscow’s biggest seller of everything that’s about children. It was sure tough for” Detsky Mir” to survive such a fierce competition - but it definitely managed!
This teddy bear is the size of Megatron!
I think that even though it may not be the biggest store in terms of occupied space, it’s still got better choice than anyone else around. Sure, “Savenok” can be cheaper, but frankly it’s just a bunch of small “ma-and-pa” stores brought together under one roof. Those shops may each have a slightly different choice of goods, but overall the stuff they sell is all the same.
“Detskiy Mir”, on the other hand, may be smaller and more expensive, but it’s sure got more and better things to offer. Sure, if you’re looking to buy something decent at a reasonable price – you should buy in other retail outlets, but if you’re after something exclusive and willing to pay for that – only “Children’s World” in Moscow can grant your wish.
Also, don’t forget that the store is one of numerous Moscow sights! After all, this building is more than 50 years old, and has been an inseparable part of our history since then. Sure, it’s not as important as, say,The Kremlin, but it’s definitely one of those landmarks nearly every Muscovite will advise you to visit.
However, if you’re going to visit the store, don’t forget that it stands on Lubianskaya square, right next to HQ of Russian KGB. Be afraid, be VERY afraid But seriously speaking, that’s a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, don’t you think? After all, it would be naïve to think the guys in that gloomy building don’t know you personally! Come on, that are probably reading your dossier as we speak, so be careful not to take too many pictures there!
Now now, don’t be scared. I was kidding, of course! Everyone is allowed to walk “Lubianskaya” these days without feeling a stare at the back. Take as much pictures as you want and you’ll see that no one will approach you asking to hand in your camera.
Freedom. It’s faaaaaantastic!
To sum it up – Detsky Mir toy store in Moscow is THE place to look for things the kids would kill to have. It sure stands up to its name “The Children’s World”, as it is the entire children universe, with toys and clothes manufactured by the word’s known brands.
Personally, I love to shop for board games, like "Monopoly" and "Risk", as there are plenty in “Detskiy Mir”. It's hard to buy an original English game in Moscow, though - we only have localized Russian versions. But - it would be great if you brought one with you. Kids or no kids - there's nothing like making your wife bankrupt after a busy day in Moscow!
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