Hello everyone. I’m Auður and I have a problem. I’m obsessed with home decor and I think I need some help.
… “Hi Auður”…..
When my best friend and I were kids we would play with our Lego and My Little Pony, go to a nearby park and have picnics or on special occasions, we’d pack his mom’s microwaved popcorn and SodaStream in our backpacks and go to the movies. And then we would go to IKEA.
The appeal may have been that room full of balls that you could float around in or the fact they had a juice machine with an unlimited supply of watered down juice made from concentrate but a part of it was walking around and planning our future homes. We may have been a couple of oddballs.
We grew up and he now lives in Sweden. When I visit we still go to IKEA sometimes (only if he needs something, it’s basically the same as IKEA here) but we spend more time visiting home decor and design stores that I can’t find in Iceland and then if we have the time for it, we’ll drive between second-hand markets in the hopes of finding that extra special something that we don’t really need but can’t live without.
Often we spend a whole day driving between places and return empty-handed. It’s not really about buying stuff, it’s more about spending that quality time together and admiring all the wonderful and weird things that people have put into their homes over the years. But scoring an interesting one-of-a-kind piece doesn’t hurt.
In the world of IKEA and living in a country where there are only so many stores that sell home decor so everyone ends up buying the same things, this has become something I do whatever city I’m in. Although it’s never the focus of my trip – if I see a cool design store or second-hand market close by I’ll probably take a few moments to check it out.
Because of circumstances, we can’t travel as much as we’d like to so most days I have to make do with the local second-hand markets that I visit frequently. So in case there any kindred spirits out there (indecisive overthinking second-hand window-shopaholics that don’t actually buy that much) then here are some of my favorite Reykjavík second-hand markets.
Góði Hirðirinn (The Good Shepard) is run by Sorpa, the Reykjavík recycling company and at their recycling centers, they have containers where people can get rid of unwanted stuff that still has some use left in it. All the proceeds, when their staff has been paid and such of course, go to a good cause but each year several charities receive donations from them.
Góði Hirðirinn sells everything from furniture to cutlery and everything in between like books, vinyl records, jewelry and toys for kids. They usually reserve the most valuable items (paintings, special edition books etc) for an auction that happens at the end of the year so they can maximize the profits for their charities. Although they often just have a lot of junk there are some real gems in between and roumor has it that they get new stuff on Thursdays so the store is always extra busy then with scouring collectors and regulars.
We have a lovely cupboard we bought from there and I’ve made amazing deals on books but I collect (maybe not surprisingly) all kinds of books about Reykjavík, its history and architecture and these books tend to be expensive when you buy them new. It’s not the best place in town for the cool stuff but it it’s relatively close to the downtown area with easy access by bus and the prices are more than fair.
Góði Hirðirinn is open from 12:00 to 18:00 Monday to Fridays and from 12:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays. It’s closed on Sundays.
I know a few people that will probably be mad with me for sharing Portið with you because they tend to have a lot of cool stuff that people would like to keep to themselves.
Portið is run by a few people, collectors probably, who all sell their stuff in this space and seem to take turns working there. As you walk around the space (which is literally full of stuff) and look at the price tags you will see the initials of the person who the item belongs to. Sometimes they don’t have a price tag on something and if the person who owns it is not there, they’ll have to call them to check on the price or they simply can’t sell it to you (or they try to guess, which has also happened when I’m there).
I have a lot of cool stuff from Portið (nightstand, vases and flower pot to name a few) but when I first started going there not as many people knew about it and I feel the prices were a bit better. Prices are still mostly reasonable and it’s exactly the kind of place I look for when I’m abroad.
The only not so nice thing about Portið is that the people that run it are kind of eccentric in ways and they don’t seem to look at what they are doing as running a business. They only take cash, refuse to give receipts (when I’ve asked for it at least) and because the owners are also selling stuff on their own through Facebook and such the things that you see there and maybe finally decide to buy after walking 7 circles around the store thinking about it, are actually not for sale because somebody has asked them to reserve it on Facebook. But I keep going there, so that must mean something.
Portið is open on Thursdays from 14:00 to 18:00 and on Saturdays between 11:00 to 16:00.
The Salvation Army in Iceland runs a couple of second-hand stores under the name Hertex. One is in the downtown area and sells clothes and homeware and the second location is in the suburb of Grafarholt. There they have more furniture and homeware stuff and I love their book section too. When I go to Akureyri I always go to the Hertex store there and I always leave it with something.
The best thing about the Hertex stores is the prices that are very fair. On the flip side, it depends on when you visit how good the stuff is. Some days you wonder who on earth had all these odd things in their home before they got donated while the next day you might find a designer light fixture for a price that indicates that the person pricing it did not know what they had in their hands.
Hertex in Downtown Reykjavík is open from 11:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday
Hertex in Grafarholt is open from 11:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday and 12:00 to 17:00 on Saturdays
Fríða Frænka (Aunt Frida) was a legendary antique/second-hand store in downtown Reykjavík that all the cool kids would visit to buy knick-knacks for their homes. It was located where the café Stofan is now on two floors filled with beautiful things. It was one of my favorite stores downtown although at the time I was a poor student and couldn’t afford anything in there. Or so I felt at least.
Fríða frænka closed down a few years ago but the woman who owned it now operates a market in an industrial part of the old harbor that is often open the first Saturday of each month. It’s basically just a storage space on three floors and it’s full of cool stuff. It’s mostly furniture but also some smaller items that may be able to travel.
Fríða frænka is a bit pricier than the other places on this list but I feel she also has a lot of the things that are either in demand that of course raises the price or are design items that are just worth more. I have a beautiful footstool from there that was completely reasonable and considering how much I still love it it was worth every króna.
Fríða Frænka is usually open the first Saturday of the month from 13:00 to 16:00 but make sure you check out the Facebook page before you go to confirm that it’s open.