This brilliant update on the thrift store model includes DIY repair classes, organic food, and a drop-off zone for unwanted items.
Sweden has created the thrift store of your wildest dreams. Called ReTuna Återbrucksgalleria, it is a shopping center that specializes in refurbished goods. Shoppers can explore the mall’s 15 stores, which sell all manner of household goods, from furniture, computers, and audio equipment, to flowers, plants, garden tools, building materials, and bicycles.
The center is multi-purpose. It has a recycling facility where people can drop off unwanted items that will be repaired, refined, and resold by staff. There is a cafeteria specializing in local organic food and an education area that offers a year-long “Design, Recycle, Reuse” course, shorter DIY repair sessions, and visitor tours to learn how the system works. From the center’s website:
“This is not an ordinary mall. Here you can experience shopping in a whole new way, a climate-friendly way. ReTuna Återbrucksgalleria is Sweden’s, and perhaps the world's, first shopping mall that takes advantage of things needing new homes. Renovation, repair and creative reuse [will give] things new life… We call it recycling – a climate-friendly way of doing business.”
Swedes are world-renowned for their progressive approach to the environment, and this shopping center fits in nicely with that mentality. According to the Good News Network, it has provided 50 new retail and repair jobs and created valuable space for local artisans and start-ups in the city of Eskilstuna, located about 75 miles from Stockholm. It is challenging, though, for a small population to support such a major enterprise:
“ReTuna endured its share of growing pains, and its general manager acknowledged in one interview that some stores are struggling to make a profit. Of course, one challenge the shopping center faces is that no one else has attempted such a business model, which makes for a huge learning curve.” (Triple Pundit)
While thrift stores are nothing new, it’s about time the concept was updated for modern times. What makes ReTuna unique is its ability to repair items that come in, rather than discarding them because they’re unsellable, as most thrift stores have to do. This approach to repurposing household goods is what recycling should look like, and will hopefully serve as an inspirational model for other similar ventures elsewhere.