The Scandinavian Gift Shop opened 49 years ago in the Ellington Center Plaza and Siv Harvey still runs the shop, now out of her home, across the street from its original location.
"It took time for the townspeople to get used to modern Scandinavian designs," Harvey said. "And the old-timers looked at prices and gasped for air because they were so high!"
Harvey sells imports from Scandinavia, like porcelain, jewelry, ornaments and crystal. She also sells traditional Scandinavian foods.
Louanne Hoffman bakes bread, and Harvey calls it one of her most popular items.
"It's hazardous to your waist, but it's worth it," she said.
Harvey moved to the United States from Sweden in 1957. She went back and forth until she moved to Somers in 1961, where she lived until she came to Ellington five years later.
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But opening a Scandinavian shop in Ellington was an easy decision for Harvey. All someone had to do was ask.
"I said okay!" Harvey stated.
Harvey enlarged, twice. She switched from the Church Street to Maple Street.
"I wasn't going to do retail after 33 years," she said. "But people were so upset. They missed the Scandinavian Gift Shop."
Sixteen years later, she's still in business and feeling the rush of the holidays, her busiest time of year.
"Christmas is a busy time," Harvey said.
She sees an average of 20 to 25 people on the days she's open. And customers come from all over, like upstate New York, and then there are the regulars.
"I have customers who came in this week who've been coming the last 35 years," Harvey said.
She went on to joke, "It's fun. You wonder if they're still going to be alive, they wonder the same about me!"
But Harvey's customers are the reason she stays open. They're her favorite part about the shop.
"They're not really customers," she said. "They're more like friends."
Harvey says that she doesn't really miss anything about Sweden, but just wishes her friends and family were all here.
"It would be so lovely to have them closer by," she said. "But I do go back and they come here to visit."
And Harvey keeps her Swedish roots through the Scandinavian Gift Shop.
"And I get a social life," she said.