The opening of the famous department store in Sarajevo was followed by giving the nickname “blue beauty” to this extraordinary building that was built at the then Square of October, where previously were located buildings “Gradina” and tavern “Istra”.
The department store was built, equipped and put into operation on the 5th of April 1975, as a gift of the company Unima for the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the city, as reported by Oslobodjenje on the 6th of April 1975, according to the Historical Archive of Sarajevo.
Of the total usable floor space of 17,111 square meters, a total of 11,000 square meters were used for the sales process. Sales area was placed on five floors with 16 departments, supermarkets, snack bar, restaurant, wardrobe, administration, dispatch and a mechanical center, credit department, storage, and manipulative space.
A total of 500 employees and the most modern installations guaranteed the proper functioning of the building, and visitors had full comfort on escalators, three passenger and two freight elevators that covered all five floors of the department store.
According to the first director of Unima Nezir Muzur, citizens and guests of the city had the opportunity to purchase representative, high-quality goods and choose between several tens of thousands of items that were never sold in Sarajevo before, thanks to this department store.
“For the first time ever since the existence of the capital of BiH, its citizens were able to purchase all goods they needed in one place,” said Muzur.
“Department store Sarajka appeared one day in all of its beauty and glory, a symbol of a growing society, self-management, the future and faith in a better tomorrow. To me, as a child who rarely came down from Djidjikovac, this department store represented magical city center, a space shuttle parked in front of Veliki Park, an exotic object that contained toys and other stuff. The misfortune of this department store was that it was not built by Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright, so there was no chance that its historical role in a city would be preserved by the fact that it was built by some famous architect. On the contrary, it became the main target of postwar society vultures who just wanted to get a perfect location for a different kind of building that would be built in the same place,” said Raif Cehajic and Nebojsa Seric Soba.
Department store Unima worked until the war in 1992, during which it was completely devastated and it was finally demolished back in 2007. Today in its place is a modern BBI Center, which was officially opened on the 6th of April 2009.