Kjötborg Corner Shop: The Heart of Reykjavík’s Vesturbær District Skip to content

Kjötborg Corner Shop: The Heart of Reykjavík’s Vesturbær District

By Michael Chapman

Outside of Kjötborg
Photo: Photo: Michael Chapman.

Kjötborg is one of the last remaining historic corner shops in Reykjavík. Providing the usual assortments of handy items, this beloved establishment also offers a profound sense of novelty and cultural interest for foreign visitors. Read on to learn more about Kjötborg.

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The following sponsored content is in partnership with Kjötborg corner store.
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When strolling through Iceland’s bustling capital, Reykjavík, you might find yourself craving a little something at the corner of, say, Ásvallagata and Blómvallagata.

Your eyes do not deceive you.

Kjötborg exterior
Outside of the store. Photo: Michael Chapman

A quaint convenience store named Kjötborg, painted ocean blue, sits ready to provide… almost as if it were conjured by the Norse Gods themselves. 

Hungry, thirsty, in need of nicotine – you’re restless to step inside and begin browsing its wares. 

But before you do, take a moment to appreciate the cultural legacy of this unique store.

What makes a corner store so special?

Wait a moment… in the land of glaciers, volcanoes, and waterfalls… How could a corner shop possibly hope to compete for your precious time? 

Well, in Reykjavík, cosy retail outlets are not just places to grab snacks, packets of gum, or cigarettes. Sometimes, they can be fun, attractive, and fascinating points of interest in their own right. 

Check out the below video from our recent visit to get an inside look at how Kjötborg operates day-to-day:

Culture in the Capital

No doubt, you’ve heard of the flea market, Kolaportið, or the small entertainment shack, Geisladiskabud Valda. 

Well, while miniscule in scale, Kjötborg very much stands shoulder to shoulder with such places. One cannot help but feel it deserves far more recognition for its contribution to that intangible essence that makes Reykjavík what it is.

Kjötborg is not only the oldest convenience store in Iceland – it might very well be the oldest shop in the entire capital. 

Kjötborg
Gunnar behind the till. Photo: Michael Chapman

Established in 1928, this family-run business has witnessed nearly a century of Icelandic history, weathering economic shifts, social changes, and the evolution of the retail landscape. 

It is hardly hyperbole to claim its enduring presence is a testament to both community support and unwavering adaptability.

Naturally, this has drawn interest, not just from passers-by.

In 2000, a sweet and charming little documentary titled Kjötborg was showcased at numerous film festivals around Iceland, bagging a prestigious Edda Award for Best Film that year and winning the Patreksfjörður documentary festival in the Westfjords. 

Fans of the big screen or informative journalism might want to check out the trailer:

The times, they are a' changing...

Originally a butcher’s shop – Kjöt meaning meat and borg meaning shop – Kjötborg has retained its name throughout its history. 

Its walls and shelves are adorned with family photographs and keepsakes, revealing its evolution from a traditional butchers to a modern convenience store, all while preserving its old-world charm.

Today, the store is run by two brothers, Gunnar and Kristján, who between them have become something of local legend. 

This glowing reputation is not merely due to their affable personalities and hard-working nature but their ability to withstand closures when other similarly sized corner shops could not.

Kjötborg groceries
Kjötborg offers an eclectic mix of items. Photo: Michael Chapman

Bringing it back, for a moment, to the 2000 documentary on their business, the filmmakers described the pair as “the last Mohicans of the merchant class.” 

Indeed, in the cutthroat world of business, this comparison could hardly be more apt.

While it might still look like your typical run-in-and-grab-something spot, Kjötborg symbolises something far more important to Reykjavík locals. 

It is, after all, a call-back to the years when corner shops provided for their neighbourhoods rather than enormous supermarket chains / fashion brands overseen, on the face of it, by a demented cross-eyed pig. (Here’s looking at you, Kronan…)

The Heart of the Neighbourhood

Vesturbær
Ásvallagata street in Reykjavík's Vesturbær district. Photo: Michael Chapman.

Unsurprisingly, residents living nearby are quick to sing Kjötborg’s praises, with many declaring it as nothing short of the centre of the neighbourhood. 

The shop strives to live up to its reputation. Take the sign inside which promotes an ambitious business philosophy – “Kjötborg: the amazing shop! Everything is available here.”

Alright, you might struggle to find certain items outside of the typical, but Kjötborg’s owners are dedicated to providing their customers with the exact products they need. If someone is looking for a specific brand of shampoo or strawberry jam, they need only to let the owners know, and they will set about ordering it for your next visit. Talk about customer care!

In addition to everyday essentials, books, and DVDs, Kjötborg stocks a range of locally sourced items, including fresh fruit and produce from nearby farms. 

It is this commitment to supporting local producers that ensures the freshest goods for their customers, not to mention how it also strengthens the local economy.

So, when you find yourself in quick need of some convenience items, or even the desire to see Icelandic people at their most authentic and welcoming, make sure to stop by Kjötborg during your visit to Reykjavík. 

You’ll find a corner store where history, community, and personal service come together in one delightful package.

When is Kjötborg open?

Kjötborg shop
Kjötborg takes a typically Icelandic approach to organisation... Photo: Michael Chapman

Kjötborg is open every single day of the week. Chances are that whenever you visit, you’ll run into either Gunnar and Kristján, who are sure to help you with whatever you need, be it products or information about the shop!

Monday           8:30 AM–9 PM

Tuesday          8:30 AM–9 PM

Wednesday   8:30 AM–9 PM

Thursday       8:30 AM–9 PM

Friday             8:30 AM–9 PM

Saturday       8:30 AM–9 PM

Sunday          1PM–7:15 PM

Where exactly is Kjötborg?

Kjötborg is an easy stroll from the many attractions of downtown Reykjavík, making it the perfect place to pop in for a quick visit. 

You can see the precise location of the shop below: 

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