Torgsin

Aleksander Zelikov/TASS
The residential building, that was mentioned in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, on the corner of Ulitsa Arbat (Arbat Street) and Sadovoye Koltso (Garden Ring) was designed by architects Vladimir Mayat and Vyacheslav Oltarzhevsky, and construction was completed in 1928. It replaced the ancient Smolensky Market. Torgsin, which occupied the ground floor of the building, is a short-hand for "trading with foreigners." The store began operations in 1931. Soviet citizens could buy all sorts of goods here, paying for them with pre-revolutionary coins, silver, platinum, gold, and gems. In such a way, over the course of four years, the Soviet people had submitted 100 tons of pure gold to the state coffers. After Torgsin shut its doors in 1936, the store was renamed into Smolensky grocery store, which operates to this day.