The End of an Era

Today, I made my last visit to one of the oldest stores in Luleå, Jala Färg & Tapet AB. It was opened in 1922 by John Arne Leonard Andersson (that´s his initals in the name, and färg means colour or paint, tapet means wallpaper), and has been on that same spot since 1924. It´s been my go-to place for any art supplies, the wallpaper in our kitchen, the oilcloth on our table, glues and dyes for all kinds of projects and repairs. I have noticed that the assortment has narrowed over the years, as in many other stores. Much of that is, of course, due to the increase in mail order shopping over the internet. No one is more guilty of that than I am, but really, why should I buy what I almost want, when I can get exactly what I want, and for less? Still, I am sad to see them go.

The owner, (or ex-owner, rather), Britt-Inger Karlsson, held up this collage of pictures from the beginning of Jala´s history:

Interestingly, it used to be Jala Färg- och Droghandel, which is literally drugstore, not a word used in Swedish nowadays. Young´n´s would think they could go there for pot! But I remember the days you´d buy makeup and wallpaint in the same place.

"I hate being photographed," she said and held it up as a shield, for me to take a picture. Then she told me that she and her husband were going to have their first vacation in ten years (which is how long they have owned the store), and at 63, they felt it was a bit too soon to quit, but "we got an offer we couldn´t refuse".

"I don´t know what we are going to do now," she said.
"Babysit," said her daugher, who also helps out in the store, from time to time. So someone had that sorted!

My plan was to stock up on my favourite pens, as my writing pens are really drawing pens, filled with liquid ink that run out really fast. But all those pens were gone. I should have come last week, after the newspapers wrote about the store´s closing-down. As I´m sure every sensible regular customer did.

I suppose you could say it´s the end of an era, but I also know that an excellent shopping experience, with a personal touch and good service can, these days, be had even when shopping from a small business in Hong Kong. From the comfort of one´s sofa. We loose some, and we gain some. 


  1. it's hard to lose a local store. i try to buy my books in the independent bookstore here in hopes it can thrive, although it's not always possible to get some things through a local outlet.

    i hope something fun opens up in the space.

    1. I wouldn´t be surprised if the place next door is expanding. It´s a former newsagent who now has the mailorder service in central town. (The Post Office has been dismantled by the government in favour of private initiative.) It´s where I go to get my boxes of books&stuff from Hong Kong, England, Germany, and California. Slightly ironic, I think.