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All Kinds of Everything

All Kinds of Everything

Published September 7, 2010

Just take a peek in the windows of Fríða Frænka, the little grey corrugated metal house in downtown Reykjavík, and you’ll be hooked. This antique shop is enough to make even the most selfrespecting antique lover jizz her pantaloons.  Antique dolls peer from the basement  windows, coaxing visitors in,  daring them to leave without dropping  cash on something old, ridiculous, and  beautiful. The shop is jammed with carefully organised items—cupboards stacked with china and silverware, a  ceiling covered with hanging lamps  (most of which actually work, I’m told),  crowded Danish modern teak furniture  on the basement floor, a table of  faded plastic children’s toys, an alcove  stuffed with fabrics, jars full of thimbles  and vintage eyeglasses. Every nook and cranny is prime real estate.
The collector
 
Anna Ringsted is the keeper of these treasures. She is Reykjavík’s unofficial steward of cool old things. “I’ve got all kinds of everything,” Anna says when  I speak to her in the shop. Her most expensive item is a piece of silverware,  and her best deal? “That is difficult to say, because I’ve got loads of things,” she said. “Everything is a bargain.”  Not as much a bargain as going to  the flea market, I must say, but Fríða  Frænka (Aunt Friða in English), isn’t  about junk. This store is a whole lot of special. People usually don’t walk in  looking for something specific, she tells  me. They come to view the collection,  to find the unexpected. That’s the joy of this beautifully curated shop, and it’s  worth paying for.  Anna refuses to stereotype her typical customer. There isn’t one, she says.  “Some are looking for tables, some for chairs, some for jewelry, some for  tablecloths, lamps.” And lots of tourists  find a little piece of Iceland to take  home with them.  
Old things from everywhere

By no means is everything in here from Iceland, however. The antiques come  from all over the world, Anna says. “A  lot of them from Denmark and England.”  “Sweden, Finland!” chimes in the young woman with stylised rouged  cheeks working from behind the till.  Even though they originate from afar, Anna mostly finds her wares locally,  at small personal sales in Reykjavík—  moving sales, or when a family  is selling off the wares of a deceased  loved one.  The bits and bobs that do originate from Iceland, Anna says, are usually  furniture, ceramics, and silverware. At  the front of the shop are barrels of  green glass fishing floats which must  have come from Iceland. Perfect for tourists to take home.  Everything in the store says something about Icelandic culture, not just  the stuff that was produced in Iceland,  Anna says. The place gives visitors a peek of what Icelanders of the 20th  century chose to put in their homes.  The collection also says something about Anna. Her favourite item of the moment is downstairs, a huge wooden  wardrobe. “It’s too big for me to take  home,” she says. Anna’s home looks  like the store, of course.  “I don’t go to IKEA,” she laughs. She has one item from the Swedish megachain,  she tells me, “but you can’t see  it.”  Though she’s always been interested  in antiques, her tastes and therefore  her shop-curating have changed  over the years as she has matured and  as she sees things along the way that  spark her interest. “It would be tiring to always sell the same thing,” she tells  me. Still, some items in the store are old friends that have been around since Friða Frænka opened, Anna says.  A Danish import herself, Anna founded the store 29 years ago because she saw a gap in the Reykjavík  retail landscape. Fríða Frænka “was wanted,” she says. Anna has no background  in design, “just a good eye,” she  says. “Just look around and you see why.”  



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