Costco "Misunderstood" By Some Icelanders

Costco “Misunderstood” By Some Icelanders

Published July 10, 2014

Photos by
Nicholas Eckhart

An Icelander living in Canada told Icelandic radio that the fears of Costco coming to Iceland are based on erroneous information and misconceptions.

“I think the discussion has gone in the direction of their being this American company coming here and making huge demands, trying to get around the law, and all that,” Jenný Stefanía Jensdóttir, an Icelandic business administrator living in Canada, told listeners of the radio show Reykjavík síðdegis yesterday. “It is not like that. For example, here, where I am [in Canada]. They do not sell alcohol in the food deparment and US meat is not on offer.”

Jenný, who has shopped at Costco for over a decade, is here referring to recent remarks by Progressive parliamentary party chairperson Sigrún Magnúsdóttir. She, amongst others, have expressed concerns that Costco would push for exceptions to Icelandic laws, such as being allowed to sell alcoholic beverages off their shelves or import unfrozen meat.

“The reality is, [Costco opponents] don’t want this competition,” she said. “They are protecting something else while the Icelandic consumer bleeds out.”

As reported, Costco hopes to open two stores in Iceland and is currently in talks with government ministries to receive official permission to do so. Currently, most Icelanders do their shopping through grocery stores owned by the company Hagar. Hagar’s director, Finnur Árnason, has supported the idea of Costco in Iceland, telling reporters, “I think it’s important to have in mind that we have great food products, but so do other countries, too. It’s natural that consumers get to choose what they want.”

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