The sustainability movement has led many to think about their purchasing habits. Because it is fairly clear that the earth’s finite resources cannot keep up with global consumer demand, environmentally conscious consumers are switching to purchasing used items to reduce waste by repurposing.
As one of the cleanest and unspoiled countries in the world, Iceland lies at the forefront of repurposing trends. Locals here have realized that if they want their beautiful island to stay pristine, they must protect it. This includes buying previously-owned items to reduce the demand for new production.
To ensure our lives are harmonious with nature, we all have a part to play in maintaining the delicate balance.
So the next time you find yourself in Iceland, consider checking out the wonderful thrift stores in Reykjavík. Who knows what you’ll find? Let’s take a look at some thrift shops that are easily accessible in the capital.
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The best thrift stores in Reykjavík, Iceland
These six shops will help keep your clothes out of landfills! Let's check them out.
1. Icelandic Red Cross (Rauði krossinn)
Probably the most recognizable of Reykjavík’s thrift stores and arguably the world’s, the Red Cross is an international organization that focuses on humanitarian aid.
The Icelandic branch was founded in 1924 and assists with relief efforts in war and disaster zones. The organization is mostly run by volunteers, of which over 3,000 reside in Iceland.
One of the key sources of funding for Red Cross is their shops, which sell donated clothes and shoes. The benefits are twofold: one hundred percent of the proceeds go towards humanitarian aid and the clothes get a second life in the process.
There are 19 Red Cross stores throughout the country, including five in the capital, making it Iceland’s largest clothing chain. The two you’re most likely to come across are the branches on Laugavegur, which is the main shopping street downtown.
- The branch at Laugavegur 12 is open on weekdays from 10:00-18:00, and from weekends from 12:00-16:00. Here's the location.
- The branch at Laugavegur 116, in Hlemmur (opposite the food court), is open from 10:00-18:00 on weekdays and 12:00-16:00 on Saturdays. Store location here.
The Red Cross thrift stores in Reykjavík are large and easy to spot. Just look for the big red cross logo.
This is another clothes shop where you can find second-hand clothing in Iceland’s capital. However, Spúútnik focuses on vintage clothes, so it’s particular about what it stocks.
The shop also sells premium-brand items, such as D&G, Ralph Lauren and YSL. The owners often travel through Europe and bring back the best vintage clothes they can find.
Every August, Spúútnik holds a “kilo sale” in which their clothing is sold by weight. There are big savings to be made at this event! A range of jewelry is also available.
Take a look at the shop’s website to get a glimpse of their style.
This is the best place to go for second-hand books, as there are thousands to browse through in multiple languages. Located on Klapparstigur 25-27, next to The Irishman Pub, Bókin is in the heart of downtown Reykjavík.
The books are organized by language, and although most are in Icelandic, you’ll undoubtedly find something to your liking. After all, half the fun is digging through the shelves to see what catches your eye.
Many of the books date back decades from their original publication copies, so take care when handling them.
The shop’s contents have been organized into a helpful database on Bókin’s website. If you want to plan ahead, take a look and see if you get any ideas before visiting the shop in person. Open from 11:00-18:00 daily, this is absolutely the best thrift store in Reykjavík for book lovers.
4. Lucky Records
Another easy-to-find thrift store in downtown, Lucky Records has previously been dubbed one of the best record stores in the world.
The shop sells a mixture of new and second-hand CDs and vinyls, with tens of thousands making up their collection. This includes a multitude of genres and both old and new music by local and foreign artists.
T-shirts, posters and DVDs are also on sale at the store. During the annual Iceland Airwaves music festival, Lucky Records often plays host to live music from local bands and singers.
You can find Lucky Records on Rauðarárstígur 10, just around the corner from Hlemmur food court. Both the inside and outside of the shop are decorated with colorful artwork.
As the biggest record store in the country, rest assured you’ll find something to treat yourself to or leave with a great gift for someone else.
The shop is open from Monday to Friday, 12:00-18:00, and on Saturday from 12:00-17:00. Check out their website here.
5. Góði hirðirinn (The Good Shepherd)
This store is run by the Icelandic organization SORPA, which focuses on waste management and reduction in the Capital Region. The Good Shepherd sells previously-used items of all kinds which are still fit for use, including furniture, books, electronics, musical instruments, jewelry and more.
Sales profits are donated to charities and the country reduces its landfill, so everybody wins. You can also save money by buying a perfectly good used item rather than a new one.
If you’re looking for antique works of art or ornaments to decorate your house, this is the place to go. Many of Iceland’s old, culturally significant artifacts can be found here.
There are two locations, but the closest to downtown is on Hverfisgata 94-96. This is the road that runs parallel to Laugavegur, closer to the coast. The shop is open on weekdays from 11:00 to 18:00, and Saturdays from 12:00 to 16:00
Take a look at the website of The Good Shepherd for some ideas of what you may come across.
6. Kolaportið Flea Market
This indoor market is found close to the capital’s harbor. Here you’ll find a number of stalls run by locals selling their wares. This includes both new and used items, as well as food, such as Iceland’s famous fermented shark, or hákarl. Handcrafted clothing is a popular purchase here.
This is a good place to spend an hour or two browsing the wide selection of goods. You’ll have your choice of second-hand books, vinyl records, clothes and Icelandic souvenirs. If the weather is bad and your whale watching trip has been cancelled, Kolaportið makes for an ideal back-up plan.
Note that the market is only open on weekends from 11:00-17:00. Head to Tryggvagata 19, to the big building on the roadside.
Conscious shopping made easy
These thrift shops in Reykjavík make for an enriching browsing experience, as well as gift-giving opportunities that are more authentic and character-filled than many conventional shops.
By choosing second-hang, not only can you save yourself money and be friendly to Iceland’s landscape, but you can also do your own part to reduce humanity’s environmental impact. During your days in the city, be sure to check out these wonderful Reykjavík thrift stores.