Shops and shopping in Iceland

Now, let me make things clear in the first place: I have little energy nor enthusiasm for shopping. Let alone in great volumes or large shops. My energy level somehow drains quickly and my signs of life get abysmally low. I seem unable to fight this, so the only thing is to try to be reasonable in my mind and to express my feelings as little as possible. 

But now, after our second trip to Costco Iceland, which opened a few weeks ago, I need to express my enthusiasm. Not about shopping, but about the change Costco is bringing to the country.

Icelandic school children have for about 100 years learned from history books how the Danish commerce monopoly outlets have treated their ancestors really badly. As a colony they delivered fish and wool products in exchange for very poor produce, the meal they got is told to have hosted regularly creepies I don't want to mention in contect with food here.

Then, during a process which ended in 1943, Iceland gained full independence. But this political independence did not transfer to independence from very few importers. In a country of then just about 100.000 inhabitants, the possibility to have competing wholesales was of course limited. This situation was exploited recklessly by importers. Somehow they managed to convince Icelanders that the things they bought abroad were simply so expensive and that the transport and all the other costs would leave them only a beggar's margin just about to live.

Of course that was a lie!

The first time this lie was uncovered in a larger scale was when the Bonus shops opened soon 30 years ago now. Many wholesales went down when other retailers discovered that they could buy good cheaper in the regular Bonus shop than through them...

These days, Icelanders discover in full how inexpensive quality food can be. The stereotype that imported, "cheap" food is indeed cheap and low quality is shattered and we see many astonished and glad faces coming out of Costco having been able to afford goods they would not have been able to a few months ago. The interesting thing is though that even Icelandic products are all of a sudden on offer for a significantly lower price. The enthusiasm is tangible and there is even a Facebook page simply dedicated to sharing of stories about good buys in Costco.

Of course is everyone speculating now which of the other shops will close first and what the others would do in response. We were in one of those shops today as well and it was incredibly calm there for  aFriday afternoon... Will there be a response from other sellers? Some say it has already begun, but will their business model, with overstretched borrowing survive that? We will see.

But for now, although shopping in itself may be exhausting for "some", one can rejoice that the usury is being unveiled and the winners are everyday people.

 

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