laugardagur, febrúar 07, 2009


I just got back from Smáralind, Iceland's largest and ugliest shopping mall. ("Is there anything they don't have?") Turned out what they don't have is a replacement ignition key for a 1997 Toyota RAV4. Also, they were very low on Icelandic microbrews. (I picked up the last 6-pack of Jökull, my new fave. This one is brewed in Stykkishólmur and based on a Cherman recipe.*)

The mall walkways were almost impassable in places, due to clothing racks that had been rolled out of nearly all of the stores, impeding foot traffic and creating a fire marshal's nightmare. The normal spare/clean aesthetic of Icelandic commerce had been turned inside-out and become a cluttered sort of flea market. I had never witnessed this before. It looked to me as though, in a desperate gambit for sales and attention from a public that has ceased to consume, every store manager had put half of her store out on the tiles. It felt like a Tunisian town market, minus the mullahs. Or Boston's Haymarket, minus the guy yelling, "Threeforfifty, sevenforadallah, sevenforadallah, sevenforadallah!" Even the pharmacy had wheeled out a table of prescription meds, all for sale at 70-80% off. (I'm joking, of course. They were perfumes.)

Word on the street is that half or more of the stores in that mall will be shuttered within the year, including the anchor stores Hagkaup and Debenham's. It's probably going to be a very different kind of place come next Christmas: a mall full of empty stores, with a half-completed eyesore of an office building parking structure holding down one end. Hey, wait! This is beginning to sound familiar, like something I know quite well from another place and time... Billerica Mall, anyone?

*Icelandic microbrew seems to be selling quite well these days, based on my own observations. There's the local-pride buy-Icelandic factor, the ever-increasing quality of the brews, plus these days the cost differential between them and Sam Adams Winter is substantial. Veljum íslenskt!


Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Reading this I'm enjoying a glass of Kaldi, the beer from Árskógssandur.

Blogger JB said...

Úr tékkneskri hefð!

Blogger Kristyn said...

Well, you had been feeling nostalgic for your hometown, no? Looks like the Bricah mall will find its way to you. All you will need to make it complete is the townsfolk working furiously to prevent a new, job-providing opportunity from moving in to revitalize the unserviceable property.



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