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Loved Shop Forced Out of City Center

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Loved Shop Forced Out of City Center

Skólavörðustígur

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The shelves at Verslun Þorsteins Bergmann have been full of beautiful items for the home (especially the kitchen) since 1970, but the popular shop is now leaving its Skólavörðustígur home.

The shop will close its doors at the end of this month, after selling everything between heaven and earth for nearly 47 years. Helena Bergmann, the shop’s owner, says that Icelanders have simply stopped shopping in Reykjavík city center.

The once-full shelves have started to thin out markedly, and the quality selection of crockery, cookware, fabric dyes, ornaments, and much more, will soon be gone. “Dad started importing clothes dyes in 1947 and then started importing all sorts of homeware and that sort of stuff,” Helena told RÚV.

By the 1980s there were four shops bearing her dad’s name, in Hraunbær, Laufásvegur, Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur—the last three of which are all densely packed in the 101 postal district. But a lot has changed since then.

Helena sold the premises of the last remaining shop recently and says she hopes it does not become yet another tourist souvenir shop. But given its location on Skólavörðustígur, close to Hallgrímskirkja cathedral, her wish may not be granted.

“The city center is so changed. In just two or three years it has changed completely. It is mostly foreigners who come. Icelanders are saying they can’t be bothered to go downtown. Both because there are no shops there for them, it is hard to find a parking space and there is nothing there for them. I find they come mostly to town for fun, to go to cafés and look at the shops, but not necessarily to buy,” she laments.

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