Lying approximately 1.5 hours west of central Stockholm is a thrift hunter’s paradise. The Swedish town Eskilstuna boasts what is believed to be the world’s first mall dedicated entirely to repaired and upcycled goods.
The centre name ‘ReTuna Aterbruksgalleria’, an amalgam of the town name and Swedish words ‘Aterbruk’ and ‘Galleria’, meaning ‘reuse’ and ‘mall’ respectively, evidences the purpose of the mall. Its workers are quite forthcoming in addressing that all goods are secondhand.
However, its founder Anna Bergstrom also implores the significance of a strong business model and entrepreneurial presence. In order for the centre to operate, it relies on the rigour of the owners and managers of the retail shops. Without this thirst, Bergstrom believes the centre would operate more like a game rather than a shopping mall. It is an interesting balance between municipal and business, one which the success of the centre truly depends upon. The centre has no sole owner and is managed by environmental activists. It originates from bold politics and the town’s desire to be the best at handling waste management. Considering Sweden’s recycling policy has been dubbed “so revolutionary the country has run out of rubbish” by the Independent, the town was obviously going to have to produce something pretty remarkable to warrant that title.
Since its launch in August 2015, the centre has at times struggled to make a profit. However, this was entirely to be expected, and generally, it is considered to be a great success and to be more profitable than expected. The Swedes comfort with buying secondhand items is quite notable in the strength of the centre. Considering that Sweden actually imports rubbish in order to sustain its recycling plants, the Swedish people are obviously habituated with recycling and reused goods to a level most nations could not really understand. Although this may seem like a really great idea for other countries to implement, it is apparent that it, unfortunately, would not be quite so simple.
Consisting of fourteen shops, the centre has specialist outlets in a whole host of areas, ranging from clothing to building materials. Accepting donations from the general public, the mall does not turn away any items. If products are not suitable for resale even after servicing, they are redistributed either to local communities or recycling centres. Nothing is thrown away. In addition to the shops and restaurant, the centre also houses an exhibition area, conference room, and training college. These all facilitate the education of recycling and really do ensure the longevity and ascension of ReTuna Aterbruksgalleria. Sweden has provided not just a shopping centre of rejuvenation, but also a centre of understanding and environmental responsibility.
It certainly will take a while for this kind of shopping model to spread. But its current strength is definitely a great accomplishment for the people of Eskilstuna, as well as a significant example of sustainable shopping.
Words: Steph Ryan
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