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Two-Minute Tour: Reykjavik, Iceland

Along with a growing demand for second-hand shops, the Icelandic capital accounts for more than a third of the country’s population.

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The Numbers

As the capital of Iceland, Reyjavík is by far the largest city in the Nordic island country. With an estimated population of more than 118,000, Reyjavík accounts for more than a third of Iceland’s population. In addition, the Reykjavík Capital Area comprises six additional towns: Kópavogur, Hafnafjörður, Garðabær, Mosfellsbær, Seltjarnarnes and Kjósarhreppur. Combined with the city center, these municipalities account for 220,000-plus residents.

The Pulse

Second-hand stores in Reyjavík have recently grown in popularity, according to Védís Guðmundsdóttir, the Project Manager of Visit Reykjavík, the city’s tourism bureau. Top spots include Extraloppan, voted best second-hand store in the city, and Wasteland Reykjavik, which has dominated the market after being open for just under two years. Also on the rise are homeware stores, says Guðmundsdóttir. Known for its Scandinavian style, Epal has become a mainstay in the Reyjavík design scene for more than 30 years. Worth a trip for the inspiration alone, NORR11 features a showroom with works from a multitude of Nordic designers.

The Hot Spots

One of the most popular areas to shop is Laugavegur Street in downtown, according to Guðmundsdóttir. Laugavegur – which means “Wash Road” – was once the route to the hot springs where locals washed their clothes. Today, the streets are lined with spaces offering the newest innovations from local designers. Kiosk is a co-op shop owned by five award-winning Icelandic designers that are often in the shop themselves, advising locals on the newest accessories.

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Spúútnik, one of Reyjavík’s oldest second-hand shops, offers vintage clothing from Europe and the U.S. Another standout houseware shop, Hrím, is a whimsical must-visit for design enthusiasts. Shoppers will also find international brands on Laugavegur, including H&M, Lindex, Hugo Boss and DKNY.

Kringlan is one of the biggest shopping malls in Reyjavík and offers a wide variety of more than 150 shops. Covering three floors and featuring more than 90 shops is another large shopping center, Smáralind. Both malls house well-known brands alongside retailers unique to Iceland. With a mixture of restaurants, cafés, grocery stores and local businesses, and accessible by public transit, the Skeifan area is an upcoming shopping district that offers everything locals need, according to Guðmundsdóttir.

Obstacles and Opportunities

The capital area has become known for high commercial rent, Guðmundsdóttir explains. Due to high competition, space in the Kringlan and Smáralind shopping centers can be hard to come by. Still, Reyjavík has everything one might need in a city, says Guðmundsdóttir. “We are also very proud of our equality in our community; all people have the right to love, live and be who they are without prejudice.” — David Rees

Drawing on more than 120 years of history serving the retail design market, VMSD magazine provides retail professionals with the most up-to-date, innovative retail design ideas and industry news through its industry-leading magazine, website, social media channels and bulletins.

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