Vintage Shopping with Irony

Words by Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir
“Frúin í Hamborg” is a fantastic riddle: What did you do with the unprecedented sum of money the lady of Hamburg gave you yesterday? The plot is as follows: answer this question, without resorting to the banned words: “black”, “white”, “yes”, and “no”, until one of us gets bored or falls asleep. If you are six years old and in an impossibly long and boring car trip, this could and will provide you with about 20 minutes of entertainment. Þorbjörg Halldórsdóttir and Guðrún Jónsdóttir, owners and founders of the second-hand shop Frúin í Hamborg, have kept up this game for about three years now.
The plot there is as follows: this is reality, and a mysterious Fräulein did not give you millions of dollars to spend as you please (because if she did you wouldn’t be here, you’d probably be at the yacht store) and you want to spend your hard-earned cash on something pretty fucking cool.
And so, you visit Frúin í Hamborg for a little bit of irony and some of the best vintage and antique shopping in Iceland. Read sub-plot: vintage is very cool.
Since it opened in early June 2003, Frúin has been a favourite with the young as with the old in town. The vintage clothing store Spúútnik, whose venues were originally confined to Reykjavík, occupies half of the store while an enormous and diverse collection of antiques spans the rest of the small space. The antiques in the store range greatly in function, price and especially frivolity. In a single room, you can find not only a range of furniture including desks, chairs, lamps and pianos, but also old perfumes, sunglasses, a giant ceramic Jesus head, spinning globes, cookie boxes, radios, typewriters, fondue pots, vases, postcards, playing cards, and a variety of hats, jackets, dresses, shoes, slips, tops, handbags and swimsuits that span the styles and designs of the last six decades at least.
Owners Halldórsdóttir and Jónsdóttir work not only in the store, behind the counter helping and often haggling with customers, but also outside (in the real world), scoping for antiques in houses around town, as well as travelling to and collecting at foreign markets. Often, the most interesting and strange small trinkets in the store were brought in by the townspeople themselves.
Having the advantage of a small town where traditions die hard and memories die harder, Frúin has not only been cashing in on the nostalgia of a time past for its own sake, but has managed to bring back this northern town’s unique spirit of youth, giving the seemingly intangible everyday ideas of the past a rare chance at perpetuity. And so everybody wins. It feels just like a million dollars.
In your face, Lady of Hamburg.
Frúin í Hamborg
Brekkugata 3, 600 Akureyri
Tel.: 461-5577
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