Iceland’s first shopping mall, Kringlan, celebrated the 30th anniversary of its opening yesterday, RÚV reports. Today Kringlan receives about 5 million visitors annually.
On August 13th, 1987, Pálmi Jónsson, founder of the department store chain Hagkaup, cut the ribbon and officially opened the mall, with crowds in attendance.
On the opening day, RÚV reporters asked Pálmi how long he had been dreaming of such a mall. “It has been a long time now, but only four years since we took it seriously. But we’ve been looking at these so-called ‘shopping malls’ abroad for a long time,” Pálmi answered.
The opening of Kringlan was one of the main news stories of that period. Thousands streamed into the mall on opening day, which was spoken of as a revolution in shopping. To help Icelanders understand the cost involved in building the mall, the newspaper Tíminn reported that the cost of construction, not including the interior, was 50 percent more than the appraised value of all buildings in Flateyri, a small village in the West Fjords: including the cost of the village trawler.
Björn Árni Ágústsson, a watchmaker whose watch and jewelry store Meba was the first to secure a spot in the mall, stated one of his colleagues at the time did not believe he wanted to relocate his shop to the mall. “It’s like moving from a single-family house into an apartment building,” the colleague told him. Björn states he never had any doubts about the move. His store remains in the same location in Kringlan today.