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Report from Russia E-W Zeebox dean of the summer session at the University of Minnesota and 10 other university faculty members recently completed a 30 day 9000 mile trip through the Soviet Union the trip was financed by a grant from the family foundation of St. Paul. While in Russia Dean Ziebart interviewed his colleagues and obtained their first hand impressions for this program. Now here is Dean Zeb on a devotee of the Barclay body rocked out on in the field you know not with me and I provide good you know today Dr. Robert Holloway chairman of benefit ministration at the University of Minnesota has been doing reasonably attentive department door buying and stocking availability of consumer goods in the Soviet Union. We've now traveled several miles to the Philly area and in fact I've always had an opportunity to make a study and a variety of places. I wonder whether you'd be willing to be given away with a fairly general
impression of the availability of can the American good kind of material which are available in the demand I know that a kind of shotgun question. If you're willing to take a shot of that rather broad question it encompasses much of what we I'm sure interested in finding out. Surely one of the things that has surprised me has been the availability of consumer goods. The studies which have been published on your need for consumption in the United States have indicated that there has been quite a shortage of consumer goods. Now undoubtedly changes in the government and changes that have come about as a result of the organizational plans have increased the amount of consumer goods. This does not mean that there are unlimited quantities of consumer goods but certainly the customer does have a selection. We do know that when stores announce the arrival of the shipment of shoes for example that there will be a queuing of customers outside the store and
to bed late we know for sure that if you did too and probably got into bed much more carefully than the rest of us we noted PUA got good stories of the city of London in front of counters you mentioned specifically shoes and for some reason choosing to be very very short supply. We saw plenty of them in department store and other shops too. I'm curious about this queuing business. Did it mean usually that there had been do you think a shortage in an area that there isn't enough shipment which is coming in and that people are simply here to line up in front of the shop. The reason for this is I think this is it the kind of advertising on the part of department stores is that of announcing the arrival of a shipment of goods. Now in the case issues we have found out that shoes are in some much shorter supply. But more than that at certain styles it is mostly the fashion. Shoes are in quite short supply. So the department
store gives worded it is receiving a shipment from the Leningrad plant or the key of the plant and it will place a small announcement in the paper to this effect as a result of the announcement then people will queue up for shoes. And inside the stores outside the stores you have to find a pretty good crowd waiting for the shoes. We've noticed these right in government or we've been in the major urban centers and we've noticed them out. Meat Market and bakery shop to show that meat relatively short the same factors are here. Interested in issues which I think is an especially good one I'm interested in the pricing system and what you said about shoes reminded me that we noticed that the price of the shoe is actually stamped in the sole right at the factory if the shoe is being manufactured. That means that there are distribution problems of the
kind which we back in the United States committee or with the department store manager or any other store manager have relatively little control over the pricing of the merchandise the bite was upset originally by the Ministry of Trade in Moscow and except for some unusual circumstances the price will be the same all over the Soviet Union. Passion there it is an opportunity for the store manager to applied to the local Ministry of Trade for price reduction and once when supply increases there will be a general price reduction. But most of the current prices are stamped on the goods at the factory and this will be the price that prevail all over the country. I wonder with a history of short consumer goods in the nation this phenomenon occurs very frequently I would rather that it does not again I'm just getting into a naive assumptions here for you to check
with this be a reasonable one that it probably doesn't happen very often. I think so far I checked this with a manager of the house of Leningrad which is a large department store. And he said it lowers prices very infrequently. Very seldom ever have MF merchandisers are the main problem. Quite naturally think and of the quality and price with the price of problematic things relatively expensive and we must keep in mind that the end of the Soviet the Soviet professional Soviet teacher in the United States but could we make the rules prevalent here and make a quick things in your opinion expensive relatively reasonably priced or did it depend upon the article. It depends a lot on me all equal and some of those are just large maps for 45 cents. Also
very inexpensive. Incidentally I don't mean to be discourteous but I have been and been to have been queuing at book stores the enormous number of excellent books and the hunger for reading material everywhere. You've been equally impressed with it yet this has been true in every city. Let me read there are many bookstores I'm sure many more bookstores per thousand people in Russia than in the United States. And a killing is every countered saying and in spite of the bookstores. If you want to give me a couple of other illustrations if you have any in mind there's a comparative pricing of articles. Pick some familiar articles. I went to the department stores in several cities and toilet soap for example can be purchased from something like 10 cents to 28 cents per bar. Again
it's difficult here to check on the quality but the lady choosing to run from eleven dollars and a half to 40 dollars some of the imported shoes from Yugoslavia may run even higher. Good readers which were interesting to us because they were so similar to our leading brands of electric razors. We found that these ran from 13 to 22 and a half dollars which certainly is not out of line. Another item. 5 horsepower outboard mascot motor was retailing at two hundred fifty dollars which again is not out of line for the at least in relation to the American prices. One other item would be a small PV set which is retailing at $195 not ordered to make these figures meaning. Let me ask two questions. One when I figure out a job I think you said about a dime to 28 percent. If I ever start
outboard motor $250 equivalents are based on a ruble at about 10 to 1 which is essentially the rate we travel inside the Soviet Union but the official exchange would fish more than price would and this is a correct. It's difficult forces know exactly what the exchange would be but assuming that it is more than four in less than 10 and these prices give us at least a fair idea of the level here in the Soviet Union. But about the quality of the materials themselves. Well I'm no expert on quality for most of these items. Just a casual glance at a lot of them will give us again this variance some merchandise looks pretty good some looks very shabby. It all depends on the item that you're examining that needs no end. Another illustration or two I've been doing a little pricing is everyone is much less systematically of course and you know what it meant
looking somewhat less than material but the material seemed to be normal quality back in the United States. Companies have been running from a hundred forty dollars using the same equivalent if you've been using up two hundred eighty one for about two hundred twenty dollars. These prices seem relatively and I wonder whether you could subsidize. There's a little three four or five dollars a month. Again the standard here really adequate quarters. Yes you know these prices I didn't go to determine and even more difficult to compare this rental price we have had some difficulty with because it seems that there is an income factor involved and that a person is expected to
pay were going to a minimum and a maximum range perhaps two to three percent of their monthly income for rent. So you were going to different rental figure I'm sure with depending upon the person you talk to naturally lead us into the next question Ed. A very important line. Do these prices mean to the Soviet worker to the Soviet professional man of the Soviet Peter I can these things be readily afforded by the a professional man with basic training budget do you think. I think I would definitely. We've been talking to people in the factories who are earning seven hundred rubles or approximately $70 a month. This same figure was given for the ordinary sales person in the department store so he certainly cannot afford many of these luxuries which are merely necessities to us on the other hand the director of the department store told me he was earning five thousand roubles a month
which would be roughly equivalent to $500 or even a good deal more according to the exchange figure you use. And certainly the director would be in a position of buying a good many of these luxury items. A way to level the wage levels standard on the whole oh I was thinking as you were speaking. Professors at the University of PM when I visited their phonetic laboratory lot a professor told me that if she put every month there she didn't pay any rent. She thought every route for a month she might be able to buy a paper recorder which we are using here in Iraq now. That kind of name is quite a department store. I've been interested in they in the naming system there's a farm I suppose of making your shop attractive and attracting the kind of advertising. How did they name their stores.
Well it has been interesting to me too because stores and factories too in the United States spend a lot of time figuring out the proper kind of Maine the kind of name that they can use for promotional purposes. We have found department stores for example with very plain names such as Ma give a number 27 modeling is simply another name for the store. We have found a house of Leningrad is another name. Now this was inherited from a pre-revolutionary times when this large department store was called by the same name. In America we are looking forward to seeing guns you am which is the largest department store in the Soviet Union and this name comes from the three terms of government universal magazine which again means the government department store. Product on the other hand are named and subtle way. Sometimes they're named for consumers. Camera is an example. Sometimes they are descriptions of a kind of
camera such as the one minute kind of camera. Sometimes there are mean for the town. This is big time and here the best camera I'm a Soviet Union is a camera which is named because it is produced in record and very interesting back story of a coming and I got a entrance from IKEA. INTERVIEWER good consumer good. Mark generally available. Many of our crop before coming to the Soviet Union we would try and get an accurate record. If I think this is a crack with a warning that there still is a shortage. We are familiar with a number of people that look down at our shoes for example of we walk along the sidewalk. I think this is some indication. Thank you very much I didn't get to be back to a particular rock in the Soviet Union arc after Dr. Robert out of like Canada Gardner's administration of the University of Minnesota thanks Bob for coming here.
You heard E-W Zeebox dean of the summer session at the University of Minnesota in another recorded report from Russia. Another report will be heard next week at this time. This series is edited by station KUNM University of Minnesota. The programs are distributed to the station through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the Radio Network.
Report from Russia
Dr. Robert Holloway
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
E.W. Ziebarth speaks to Dr. Robert Holloway, Chairman of Business Administration at the University of Minnesota, about the time he has spent in the Soviet Union.
Series Description
E.W. Ziebarth, Dean of the summer session at University of Minnesota, and ten other faculty members embarked upon a month-long trip through the Soviet Union. Ziebarth interviewed his peers about their thoughts on the trip.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Public Affairs
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Host: Ziebarth, E. W. (Elmer William), 1910-
Interviewee: Holloway, Robert
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-17-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:50
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Chicago: “Report from Russia; Dr. Robert Holloway,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “Report from Russia; Dr. Robert Holloway.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: Report from Russia; Dr. Robert Holloway. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from