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NRHA Abroad: Preserving Swedish Hardware History

The independent home improvement industry is consistently developing. Innovative retailers are moving forward with advancements like in-store pick up, omnichannel retailing and strategic digital marketing.

Despite a rapidly evolving business world, one thing shouldn’t be lost: history.

The Swedish Hardware Heritage Association’s mission is to ensure the rich history of the Swedish hardware industry is not forgotten. During my recent visit to Stockholm and Västerås, Sweden, I met with Göran Sundström, former retailer and association president.

In addition to taking me on a visit to some of Sweden’s finest retailers, Sundström described the association’s history preservation programs.

Jarnhandel in Skansen

On June 18, 2005, the Swedish Hardware Heritage Association funded the opening of a hardware store and museum called Jarnhandel in an area called Skansen. Skansen is an open-air museum located in Stockholm, Sweden, where visitors can stroll through five centuries of Swedish history while experiencing a sense of the past among buildings and people acting in historic character while dressed in traditional garb.

Jarnhandel in Skansen is a replication of an original ironmongery from the 1930’s. The building holds two shops, offices, storage and an apartment. Jarnhandel visitors get a taste of what it was like to shop in a hardware store during the early 1900s, and can browse an exclusive collection of hardware relics. Additionally, there are items available for purchase that are similar to what may have been for sale at a traditional ironmongery.

Sundström attends trade shows to find products that suit the store’s historic theme.

For more information about Jarnhandel in Skansen, click here. Check out the gallery below for photos from my visit.

Image Archive

Sunström and the Swedish Hardware Heritage Association have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to an online archive of images and articles about the Swedish hardware industry from various points in history. Some photos were provided by individual hardware store owners, but many were sourced from an old newspaper called Järnhandlaren.

The archive is broken down into four categories: shops, ads, suppliers and events.

In the shops and ads sections, website visitors can scroll through archives by decade beginning in 1910, all the way through the 2000s. Additionally, visitors can grasp the history of many industry suppliers. The association also uses the archive as an avenue to share photos from various association-related events.

For more information and to view the archives, click here.

Where in the World Is Hilary?

North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) staffer Hilary Welter is spending 12 months traveling with Remote Year, living, working and getting in touch with retail in different parts of the world. She wrote this story while working from Valencia, Spain. To see more NRHA Abroad posts from Welter, click here. For a look at what it’s like to travel, work and live abroad, check out her personal blog.

About Hilary Welter

As marketing and research coordinator, it’s Hilary’s duty to keep retailers informed about NRHA products and services and to help coordinate industry research projects. Additionally, Hilary is the voice behind NRHA’s and Hardware Retailing’s social media accounts. She appreciates a good book, spicy food, well-made horror films, craft beer and exploring new places near and far.

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