Mercantile Center “Mertskhali”

40 Mercantile Center “Mertskhali”

address: Tsereteli Street 4 
architect: unknown
construction: 1983-1988
current state: partially abandoned and  used by various private organizations 

Tskaltubo was not just a spa area which holiday makers usually visited for 14 to 21 days. Tskaltubo is also a town with thousands of inhabitants. Many of them came to Tskaltubo in the past to work as doctors, nurses, masseurs and other medical staff, but also as cooks, waiters, gardeners and technical staff. The spa town, with a capacity of 8,000 guests employed thousands of people to ensure the operation of the care system. In its heyday, Tskaltubo had a population of up to 17 000, today the number of inhabitants is lower, partly due to the disappearance of most of the professions mentioned above. However, in addition to the thousands of residents, there were more than 100 000 annual visitors, who collectively needed modern facilities  for the purchase of goods and services. The upscale Swallow department store was a modern typology of the unified shopping mall, in many ways a forerunner of todays shopping malls. The house with a stone façade was stretched around a central courtyard with a fountain. On three floors it was connected by open terraces, from which the halls led to the premises of the individual establishments. According to the original plans, there could not have been a lack of premises for the purchase of clothes, accessories, a restaurant and facilities for other services necessary for spa guests. Such a general store provided goods present in the largest metropolises of the Soviet Union, as well as more exclusive goods that could be appreciated by the spas foreign clients and thus provide the country with foreign exchange income. Unfortunately, the construction of this commercial center was completed at a time when there was no interest in similar services in Tskaltubo due to the decline in the number of visitors. The Swallow has therefore never fully fulfilled its function and is now largely abandoned.