Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were

23-09-2017, 10:37
The Union practically did not trade in consumer goods with Western countries, as a result of which Soviet citizens were deprived of the opportunity to buy goods manufactured by world brands. At the same time, there were quite a few people who wanted to dress fashionably and stylishly, and fartschiki took the free market niche.
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
Who are fartsovschiki? In the USSR, so-called sellers of various goods of Western production, who came to fartsovshchiki through different channels. Shoes and clothing were mainly sold, but original records with records of Western ensembles, cigarettes, souvenirs, jewelery, chewing gum, and even just packages with logos were also popular (especially the “Marlboro” package was appreciated).

So - under the cut a story about fartsovke and fartsovschiki.

01. To begin with, a few words about the socio-economic situation in the USSR in those years.
The era of fartsovschikov began around 1957, after the Festival of Youth and Students was held in Moscow, and lasted for more than 30 years, almost until the last days of the USSR.
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
Why do fartsovschiki appear at all? The USSR practically did not trade in consumer goods with Western countries (only selling oil there), as a result of which Soviet citizens were deprived of the opportunity to buy goods produced by world-famous brands, this applied to almost everything, from chewing gum to automobiles. Similar goods produced in the USSR itself (if there were any at all) were not distinguished by grace and in all respects lost to western products. At the same time, there were quite a few people in the Soviet Union who wanted to dress fashionably and stylishly, and fartschiki took the free market niche.
02. Fartsovschiki mined goods of Western production in various ways, after which they sold them to Soviet citizens. Almost all fartsovshchikov had its own circle of buyers, consisting of "style and hippies", well, or just one of those who wanted to buy something fashionable and interesting.
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
How were the goods mined? There could be different sources here - firstly, this is a hotel and near-hotel fartsovka, as well as fartsovka guides. As you might guess from the names, hotel employees and guides were closely involved in the purchase or exchange of things from foreigners.Secondly, it is the fartsovka of truck drivers and fartsovka sailors of the merchant fleet. The first type of fartsovka was more developed in large cities, such as Moscow, Leningrad or Kiev, and the second type - in border and sea areas, for example, in Vladivostok.
03. What products were popular with fartsovschiki and what they gave to foreigners in return? Brand jeans, brand shoes (especially “on semolina” or on the heel), sneakers (“Adidas” or “Nike”), any other branded clothing, jewelery, music plates, and chewing gum were extremely popular. Instead, fartsovschiki gave foreigners red and black caviar, all sorts of souvenir painted plates with Khokhloma, commemorative rubles, as well as Soviet vodka and cognac. Even foreigners were very popular icons with the Soviet or Olympic symbols.
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
In the late USSR, various Japanese-Korean audio equipment was popular among Russian Primorsky Farmers, which the sailors massively exchanged in the port cities for the above-mentioned Soviet goods, and some of the Western products were brought back from Afghanistan — there was a shortage. for subsequent resale in the Union, they bought them on the dukan markets or they simply drove the beaten off "on caravans" from the Mujahideen.
04Fartsovschiki had its own interesting slang, which was partly born in pre-war Odessa (with developed maritime trade and smuggling), and then also partly turned into slang "brothers" from the nineties - for example, the names of the currency "cabbage" and "greens" came from fartsovshchikov.
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
Another of the interesting words are “shoes” (shoes), “lopatnik” (it came from the Leningran fartsovshchik, who often communicated with the Finns, “lompakko” in Finnish is a “wallet”), “firm” (items of fartsovka), “in-line” ( fake a company). There was also a certain code of honor - “push the line itself” or make too large a mark-up for a regular customer was considered unethical, but such things were completely tolerated with occasional one-time buyers.
05. Trade, entrepreneurship, business and any other business initiatives were monopolized by the state in the USSR, people were deprived of the right to do something in their own choice, and private initiative was punished. Fartsovschiki did not become an exception - Soviet propaganda tried in every way to blacken fartsovshchiki in the style of "today you play jazz, and tomorrow you will sell your homeland!"
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
06. Why did this happen? From the very first days of its existence, the Soviet government abolished private property and began to form a class of poor and dependent Soviet people,all the desires and needs of which were to be controlled by the state; outside the state system you should not have a livelihood. As planned by the authors, in the end there should have been a certain “Soviet people” who are only busy with what they think about building communism, but they should not give a damn about their daily life. In reality, the Soviet people had to solve all the same issues as the people in the "capitalist" countries, just to do it was much more difficult. So there appeared such specifically Soviet things as a shortage, selling "from under the counter for one's own people" and fartsovka.
Fartsovshchiki in the USSR, as it were
They were given prison sentences "for speculation" to the captured fartshchik (what a word!) - which, however, did not stop the process of fartsovka very much, the risks were simply laid in the final price of the product, increasing it for the final consumer.
At the very end of the 1980s, in the last years of the USSR, people had the opportunity to go abroad for "shop tours", and the fartsovka began to fade away - all the same things that they had sold, began to appear en masse in clothing markets and cooperative stores.And after 1991, the Fartsovka disappeared altogether, as the market demand for it disappeared.

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