Best Place to Shop for Touristy Stuff: Geysir
There are polar bears and puffins in every other store window in Reykjavík, but is that what you want? Stuffed polar bears and puffins? What are you going to do with them when you get home? THINK ABOUT IT. Instead, why not get something useful? If we were tourists in Iceland, we’d definitely go to Geysir to treat ourselves. In fact, their high-end, durable wares cater almost as much to locals as they do to tourists. So go there to pick up top-notch brands of outdoor-wear and functionally fashionable things that you’ll actually use when you get back home.
Best Place To Stock Up On Local Design: Kraum
Kraum is THE place to stock up on local design. It represents more than 200 Icelandic artists, with a range of products and prices that are sure to satisfy any shoppers’ cravings. We threw around some contenders to take the title this year, but it ultimately came down to the undisputed variety at Kraum, and the professionalism and dedication that the folks there have in curating their excellent variety of products. Naturally, they took this category for their fourth straight year. Keep up the good work, Kraum!
Best Place To Stock Up On Local Fashion Design: Kiosk
When talent meets talent, beautiful things happen. Throw in five more blossoming young talents, and something like Kiosk is born. The seven local designers that make up this collective create all of the merchandise and run the shop themselves, guaranteeing one-of-a-kind local designs that you won’t find anywhere else on Laugavegur. At least not all in the same place.
Best Bookstore: Mál og Menning
Mál og Menning isn’t just a place to buy your next recreational read. It’s a place to buy your schoolbooks, literary tomes, get a caffeine fix, pick up the latest Sunday Times, grab a DVD for the weekend, get your kid some crayons, and stock up on stationary to write home about it all. Even though the four storeys of Mál og Menning have more than you even thought you needed, it is very well-organised and easily navigable. The staff know their books and are happy to help you out. They also do writers’ events and sometimes host concerts too.
2012: Mál og Menning
2011: Eymundsson, Austurstræti
2010: Eymundsson, Skólavörðustígur
Best Place To Get A Trendy Haircut: Sjoppan
Not only will you come out of Sjoppan with a trendy haircut, but you’ll have had a trendy experience too. Seriously, how many places can you play Nintendo and drink a beer while getting your hair cut in Iceland? Probably just one. Sjoppan.
Runner-up: Rauðhetta Og Úlfurinn came in a close second: 90% of the hairdressers are guys, the price seems to go down the more of a regular you become, and those of us who go there think our haircuts are perfect.
Honourable mention: We really should mention Hár Expó on Frakkastígur. The majority of Grapevine staff these days gets their hair cut there. Sometimes we even all go together. It may not be as trendy, but they offer you coffee, a super nice massage when they wash your hair and, well, we think our hair is pretty nice too.
2012: Rauðhetta og úlfurinn
2011: Barber Theater
2010: Rauðhetta og úlfurinn
Best Second-Hand Shop: Red Cross
We had some arguments about what exactly counted as a “second-hand” shop, but it ultimately came down to a vintage store with no curating–as in, no hand-picked collections or price mark-ups for various styles or labels. We ultimately boiled this down to the Red Cross stores on Laugavegur – one near Hlemmur and the other more centrally located – for their treasure trove-like atmospheres. Here you can get the best of a second-hand shopping experience, sifting and sorting and finally finding that dream item you never even knew needed. Plus, they are really damn cheap so it’s a total win-win.
Best Shop For High Fashion: KronKron
Anyone who has fallen under the impression that “high fashion” is synonymous with minimalistic designs for major prices needs to stroll over to KronKron. This high-end shop is refreshingly colourful and pattern-happy. The stockings that hang on the centre display could easily double as art pieces, the same goes for most of the clothes in there. KronKron was opened in 2004 by Hugrún Árnadóttir and Magni ﬁorsteinsson, who double as mastermind designers behind their own store brand. The couple’s high-end homemade brand mingles with established imports like Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, and Bernhard Wilhelm. For their third straight year, we give this fancy fashion shop our highest honour!
Best Haberdashery: JÖR
It takes a certain level of slick to pull off naming a clothing line after yourself. JÖR by Gu›mundur Jörundsson has that and more. Whether you’re looking for clean, classic styles or some flashier pinstripes and pastels, they will deck you out. The company’s Laugavegur location has head-to-toe supplies for the Reykjavík gentleman: hats, coats, ties, watches, everything down to the soles of the shoes. JÖR has the fresh cuts that can take you from a Friday night out straight to your best bud’s wedding day.
2012: Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar
2011: Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar
2010: Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar
NEW! Best Place To Buy A Wool Sweater: Handprjóna-sambandið
You might be able to beat city hall, but you can’t beat the Icelandic Knitting Association when it comes to getting yourself a super-nice, authentic lopapeysa. Their main headquarters on Skólavörðustígur offer a gorgeous selection of ready-made handknit sweaters, or if you are the more ambitious type, you can get all the supplies and advice you’ll need to make your own.
Best Organic Food: Frú Lauga
At Frú Lauga, no one can keep a secret. We mean this in a good way. No slimy pesticides or corner-cutting shipping practices tainting the path between producer and consumer. Frú Lauga prides itself on conspicuous labels that let consumers know exactly where their food is from. Two locations (one at Laugalækur 6 and another at Óðinsgata 1) stock only the freshest seasonal produce and highest quality goods. Eat well and know your grower.
2012: Frú Lauga
2011: Frú Lauga
Best Record Store: Lucky Records
Now in its huge new digs on Rau›arástígur, Lucky Records is likely to win BEST RECORD STORE for all perpetuity. It’s not just the great selection of records that makes Lucky the best, it’s also the store’s personality, which has only gotten better since the move. Many of us are devoted customers and we are so proud to see them doing great things. Luck really is on their side.
2012: Lucky Records
NEW! Best Liquor Store: Heiðrún
Okay, liquor stores in Iceland are all pretty similar. They are all owned by the state. They are all marked by the same “Vínbúðin” sign, and the ones in Reykjavík all have more or less the same opening hours—mostly closing at 18:00 or 19:00, with three of them—Dalvegur, Skeifan, and Skútuvogur—closing at 20:00. A store called Heiðrún doesn’t have the longest opening hours and isn’t particularly conveniently locate either, but it is superior to the rest for another reason: It is the store where they test new brands of beer, alcohol and wine before rolling them out to the rest of the stores. So go there to help push that new obscure brand onto the other shelves.
CORRECTION: Heiðrún is not the only one that carries new brands before rolling them out to the rest of the stores.