Jennestad historic trading center, Vesterålen | (Jennestad Gamle Handelssted)
We are actually on the way to the abandoned fishing village of Nyksund, but about eight kilometers from Vesterålen, capital of the island, Sortland, we are fascinated by a small collection of buildings below Reichsstraße RV 820, which turns out to be the Jennestad (Jennestad Gamle Handelssted) historic trading center. Curious about what this fantastic place is all about, we get out and go exploring.
Actually, the last noodle, the last shoe, the last tool was sold in Jennestad years ago. The cash register rang for the last time in 1982, when it was finally over. However, when we enter Jennestad, a grocer’s shop from days gone by today, we have the impression that the owner has just been on holiday for years. Because everything here still seems in its place. From the entire 20th century there are several thousand products such as disposable underpants from the 1960s, tights, shoes, clothes, coffee or cleaning agents on the filled shelves as if they had just been given away.
It was going well for a long time at the old Jennestad trading center, but over the years this beautiful land trade was no longer up to the competition from the nearby Sortland. What a pity. In the best years, around 14,000 items were offered here. From tea to dishes, there was everything here.
A lot of things were unpacked, i.e. sold loose, regardless of whether they were fruit or vegetables. The merchandise supports, the entire shop fitting and the sometimes equally old advertising posters have remained to this day. A bit chaotic and colorful, how an old country trade should look like. This is how a new trade could look again when it comes to packaging-free and thus sustainable purchasing.
A place of contrasts, the historic Jennestad trading center
In the main building of the historic trading center, it looks very different. It was created on the Swiss model and now houses one of the most important galleries in Vesterålen. The exhibition rooms are former living rooms, the furniture of which was lost but created its place for regional contemporary art in this way. Acoustic art joins visible art – special concerts are always held here.
How it all started in Jennestad
It all started at the now historic Jennestad trading center in 1871. Jennestad was one of the central locations on Vesterålen and so it was a matter of course that businesses would also settle here. So in 1871 the land trade opened in a form that can still be found in remote regions of Norway from time to time.
Because at that time the fish trade in the small fishing villages on Vesterålen was flourishing, graphite was also mined. In addition, agriculture has always been successful in fertile soils. As a result, money came in that was to be spent.
In 1917, the owners of the land trade had earned enough money to have the beautiful house built. They were inspired by Swiss architecture.
However, from 1922 the Risøyrenna shipping route went into operation, and the Hurtigrute also chose the port in Sortland, just eight kilometers away, as the port of call. That was too much for the up-and-coming town of Jennestad. The downward trend steadily declined, the importance of the agricultural trade in Jennestad slowly declining in importance, even if in the 1970s hip girls were still looking for this shop as the first address in search of chic fashion.
The future prospects prevented the modernization of what is today the historic trading center Jennestad. In this way, a wonderful piece of contemporary history has been preserved, which as a concept could perhaps have a future at another location. Because you can still do a little shopping here: classic games, selected sweets or regional art.
While the Jennestad agricultural trade belongs to the Museum Nord, the gallery is privately owned.
There is information about the program and more pictures museumnord.