This mall in Sweden has everything.
The brightly lit interiors, huge glass windows into shops, seating around largescale art installations, a breezy mezzanine looking into the lobby area below, and a fair amount of hustle and bustle.
The only thing it’s missing is brand-new merchandise.
In fact, every item for sale in this entire mall is second hand, upcycled, or made from reused materials.
Its founder lovingly calls it a “high-fashion trash shopping mall.”
I’d shop there.
The mall’s name is ReTuna, which sounds kind of fishy on English-speaking ears, but it’s just a portmanteau of “recycle” or “reuse” and the name of the Swedish town it’s located in, Eskilstuna.
It was established there by the local government in 2015.
Actually, the inside of the mall smells quite nice, and not at all like tuna, which is something that mall manager Anna Bergstrom paid particular attention to.
She said that she was often turned off by the signature smell of secondhand shops, even though she loved thrifting, so she wanted her visionary recycled mall to be every bit as inviting as a traditional mall, just without the high environmental impact.
Bergstrom engineered this high-class, high-fashion venture to take away some of the stigma that flea markets and secondhand shops often carry. Here, everything is neat, clean, and fresh-smelling even though it’s already been through at least one previous life.
These simple comforts are meant to normalize recycled shopping and attract shoppers that would never be caught dead in a thrift shop.
The Goods on Offer
ReTuna features a rotating stock of secondhand items and upcycled creations. Its location right next to a recycling drop off center means that there is always a fresh stream of materials coming in.
There’s actually a special area in the mall that houses promising recyclables where shopowners can come and take whatever inspires them.
You never know when creativity will strike, or how. Some of the items in the shops are nothing short of inspired, like the lamp that’s made out of meticulously cut circles from worn out leather jackets. The effect is something between a pine cone and a dragon egg- perfect for the Game of Thrones fan in your life!
When you step into the ReTuna mall, you never really know what you’re going to find- and you may have to ask what it’s made from when you do find it.
But it’s not all off-the-wall creations, there are stores selling lightly used sports equipment like skis and sleds, gently loved children’s toys, used books, home goods, and even pet accessories.
Like a Regular Mall, but Better
The only thing that you won’t find at the ReTuna mall are the crowded, haphazardly ordered shelves you may be familiar with from your local thrift shop.
Mall manager Bergstrom puts a lot of effort into making the mall a place that everyone would be proud to visit, including her teenage daughters. That means making sure that everything is as polished and well-presented as it would be in a traditional shopping mall.
She can often be overheard telling mall tenants to, “do it like Hugo Boss.”
Are Recycled Malls the Future?
You never know.
With malls generally taking a downward turn in popularity, and even rock-solid, cornerstone stores like Sears going under, a recycled mall or two may be just what we never knew we needed.
They could certainly cut down on the amount of waste that’s getting dumped into our landfills, especially as people get more and more into this whole KonMarit thing and start purging clutter left and right.
With the limited recycling facilities available in most American cities, having people drop off their unwanted items at a place like this where a bunch of creative types can get together and brainstorm a use for them could be a step in the right direction.
Plus, they would offer a place to go and see all the wild things that have been made out of unlikely materials this week, and maybe pick yourself up something nice.
I’m all for it!
Freelance writer working with bighearted businesses who want to better our world.