Narodna Torhovlia

Image - Narodna Torhovlia store in Sambir, Galicia.

Narodna Torhovlia [Народна Торговля; People's Trade]. The first large Ukrainian consumer co-operative in Western Ukraine. It was established in 1883 on the initiative of Vasyl Nahirny and Appolon Nychai, who headed the organization for many years. With its headquarters in Lviv, it served as a wholesaler to private and community-owned stores in villages and small towns throughout Galicia, as a training network for their workers, and as a retailer in the larger cities. In 1907 it changed its charter to become a central association of Rochdale-type consumer co-operatives, which were created from the better-organized community stores. By 1914 the organization had 19 of its own stores-warehouses and 1,244 members (including 93 co-operative members). Its share capital was 215,000 Austrian crowns, its reserve funds 61,000 crowns, and its annual turnover over 2.5 million crowns. A total of 831 small stores were associated with the organization.

The First World War caused great disruption in the co-operative movement in Galicia. Much of Narodna Torhovlia's physical plant was destroyed, postwar inflation and currency reform by the new Polish regime wiped out much of the organization's capital, and many of its contacts were broken. As a result the entire co-operative structure was reorganized. Responsibility for rural consumer co-operatives was transferred to Tsentrosoiuz in 1926, and Narodna Torhovlia retained responsibility for consumer co-operatives in the cities. It also assumed the task of maintaining relations with co-operatives in Western Europe and individual producers, for importing goods to be sold in Ukrainian co-operative stores (particularly coffee, tea, and fruits), for selling goods produced by Ukrainian co-operatives and manufacturers, and for training co-operative workers. By 1937 Narodna Torhovlia owned 31 stores and warehouses (including 3 in Volhynia). It had a membership of 6,443, including 5,837 individuals and 86 urban consumer co-operatives, and a share capital of 224,000 zlotys, almost half of which was owed by county co-operative associations and Tsentrosoiuz. The total turnover of almost 5 million zlotys was considerably under the 16-million turnover in the peak years of 1929 and 1930. The decline was due primarily to the Great Depression, which caused a large drop in prices. Moreover, in 1934 the Polish government introduced new restrictions on the activities of the Audit Union of Ukrainian Co-operatives, of which Narodna Torhovlia was a member. Over 60 percent of the goods handled by Narodna Torhovlia were sold through the organization's own stores. In the interwar period the leading figures in the co-operative included Mykola Zaiachkivsky, M. Lazorko, Yuliian Pavlykovsky, and O. Baryliak.

In 1939 the Soviet authorities nationalized all of Narodna Torhovlia's assets and merged the organization with the state bodies responsible for retail trade and wholesale trade. During the German occupation of Galicia the organization was partially revived to handle the distribution of rationed consumer goods in the cities. When the Soviet Army returned in 1944, Narodna Torhovlia was finally dissolved.

Illia Vytanovych

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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