Borgarfjörður eystri: "Nothing remains but a bank"

The only convenience store in the village of Borgarfjörður eystri in Iceland’s Eastern Region will close on the 1st of September. The managers of the store, Eyrin, say that they can’t continue their business while losing money. Villagers say this is a great loss for the community as the next store is 70 kilometers away. About 80 people live in Borgarfjörður eystri year round but more stay there during the summer. 

The owners announced the sad news on Eyrin’s Facebook page last Friday. They thanked their customers for an enjoyable time but that the store could no longer be run on a deficit. Arn­grím­ur Viðar Ásgeirs­son, one of the managers says that lately, things had taken a turn for the worse.

“The service in Egilsstaðir is very good and stiff commercial competition,” he says. “It is normal for people who look to the stores that offer the best prices and range of products.”

He says that it is very sad that Eyrin can’t live on but that this is simply the result of how society has evolved. Fewer people are living in villages such as Borgarfjörður eystri and they have better access to stores outside of their immediate surroundings than before.

The group that manages the store took over from Samkaup two years ago, as the company was having a hard time finding store clerks. Arngrímur says that this operation didn’t work out the way that they had hoped.

“You could say that it was a failed attempt." 

Bergvin Snær Andrésson, a local, says that Eyrin’s closing will have a great impact on society. He points out that a lot of tourists visit Borgarfjörður Eystri in the summer. “It is terrible for them to come here and nothing is open.”

Arngrímur says that of course, things could change before September rolls around but he isn’t sure how the store could be saved. He points out that a bus runs to Egilsstaðir every weekday between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. and that many villagers already do all their shopping in Egilsstaðir.

“We also don’t have health services and need to get that in Egilsstaðir. Then they had to cut down on postal services so we don’t even have a post office. Really, nothing remains but a bank.”

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