By Anna Bergström
Retuna: The coolest shopping and upcycling park in the world is, indeed, located in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The fact that Retuna represents a future-oriented type of retail mall is a claim that I have made, bragged about, defended, and proven since spring 2015, which was well before its opening. At that time, there were only a few who shared my view, but more and more people have begun to acknowledge the direction in which the mall is headed.
Of course, the combination of location and operation is what has made our concept so successful. Retuna would not have been possible without the support of courageous local politicians and entrepreneurs. Since there was no comparable business to copy, be inspired by, or learn from, we have had to develop our own manuals and instructions over time. Many of the initial elements have remained, but other things have had to be changed, developed, and redone. What has not changed, however, is our foundation – our mission is to save the earth while simultaneously creating conditions in which our tenants can make money. Together, we serve as a driving force for the future of commerce, and in the future, no one will buy anything new.
Our message has aroused many emotions, but, above all others, it has sparked admiration. Buying used goods is nothing new, but the manner in which we do it is different. Television crews, magazines, and newspapers from both Sweden as well as the rest of the world have visited us. On a number of occasions, I have stretched myself to the maximum in an effort to keep up with everything: answering every inquiry, which includes all kinds of questions about everything between heaven and earth, greeting reporters, camera teams, and photographers, welcoming and taking care of all study-oriented visitors, speaking at conferences, and somehow running the mall. Articles, films, and pictures featuring Retuna are distributed via a variety of channels throughout Sweden and abroad.
Our rewards have come in the shape of nominations, prizes, and awards. These rewards have given us the renewed strength and energy necessary to carry on. Such recognition proves that the effort that we have put forth has actually made a difference, that we have truly had an impact on people, and that individuals outside of Retuna see and like what we do. However, the focus suddenly began to revolve around me, as a person. The situation was completely new to me, and it caught me off guard. I have since embraced my role, and I feel confident serving as the spokesperson for the coolest mall in the world as well as the entire concept. I can answer personal questions without offering private details, I can give unique and personal interviews to different reporters without feeling exposed, and I am no longer anxious or nervous before various articles are published.
Of course, this change is driven by the fact that more people have become aware of sustainability, more people have begun to make more sustainable decisions, and more people have visited our fantastic mall. None of these changes are the result of my receiving a prize: They are the result of political decisions, climate reports, debates and information in the media regarding absolute timeliness, Greta Thunberg, commitment, increased knowledge, and so on. It is human nature to be a follower, and I am well aware of my particular gift in that area: getting people to follow.
All of the established businesses work together to continuously develop Retuna. Keeping a company in standard business while everything else is in a constant state of change is a true art form. While our objective is continuous development, we seek stability in the turnover of our stores. We want all Retuna tenants to be able to make a living from their businesses, to have room in their finances to develop their businesses, and to be able to hire staff. Nowadays, the biggest reward comes in the form of good turnover. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that our shops and businesses actually perform well. In July 2019, Retuna recorded its highest turnover. That proves that our concept works and that we can be role models for future retail.
In the future, I envision Retuna serving as an arena for more sustainable companies, in the sale of both products and services. I would also like to see Retuna become an arena for commercial brands that are currently considering their own transitions – to be able to test what contributes to making more people more sustainable. I dare not mention any brands yet, but one can say that we have already established good contact with some well-known brands. I also see Retuna and Eskilstuna as future climate destinations. People from all over the world have already visited us, and I think we have all the attributes needed to provide the best for our visitors, for all the people who live and work here, and for Mother Earth.