Something Swedish

Gekås – The biggest store in Sweden

17 Comments

Sometimes part of my part-time teaching job involves going to companies to help employees improve their English. Over the past three months I have been holding three weekly English lessons for a company called Gekås. If you are planning on moving to Sweden, knowing about this place is a must. If you are going to visit, it’s even a tourist attraction.

Every Swede knows what Gekås is, because it’s the biggest and cheapest “super store” in Sweden. I knew what it was  before I even moved here. Everyone I met used to ask if I have ever been there and were disappointed when I revealed that I hadn’t.  I didn’t get the big deal- I come from the U.S. where huge stores that sell tons of cheap stuff are everywhere, so I didn’t think much of it – until I went to work there. Walking through the store itself takes forever, not to mention through the warehouse to get to the offices.

ullared_flygbild_2004_07_sm

Before I went there for the first time I knew that it was very big, very cheap and very famous – not just because people mentioned it to me, but because of the T.V shows. Yes, multiple. One show includes following/interviewing regular customers as they shop and employees as they work.

The other, more famous, show is based around two employees (morgan & ola-conny) that travel to different countries (season 1) and different states of the U.S. (season 2) doing different things despite their difficulty with the English language and inability to communicate.

(They start speaking English at 0:45 )

What does that have to do with Gekås? No idea, aside that sometimes they go back to the store and their faces are all over Gekås merchandise and advertisements.

olaconnyochmorgan_mpw2014_big

So, obviously the store is huge, both in size and familiarity, but the neighborhood is not. Gekås is in a small town in Sweden called Ullared, which has only 800 inhabitants. The 40 minute bus right from the train station is mostly trees, fields and farms. Gekås was built in the middle of nowhere in 1963 and just kept growing until it put Ullared on the map.3675390-pix-geksdiagram_2014

At 35,000 squared meters (376, 735 sq. feet), it’s over 100,000 squared feet (9,300 sq. meters)  larger than the biggest Walmart in the U.S. . Due to the low prices, people travel to shop at Gekås, enough so that they have their own hotel, cabins and campsites next to the store. If you spend a whole day shopping, you can eat at the full sized restaurant on the 3rd floor, the salad bar on the first floor or have a beer at the sports bar in the middle of the store – in the women’s department.

sportbaren_121013 hotellet_fasad

 

Don’t be surprised to see people with two carts full of merchandise, exploring the 19 different departments on the hunt for more. Combine this with thousands of customers (record of 27, 500 in one day, 4.6 million in one year), it gets awfully crowded, even if it’s a big place. The good news is that there are over 62 cash registers to help with the congestion. That many cash registers helps with that many people, but also with how much merchandise they sell and money they make: a record of 33 million SEK (5 million USD)  in one day.

Thankfully, going every week meant I never had to go crazy to find everything I wanted or needed, but I did find a lot of good deals (like games and clothes) and cheap prices on household stuff I would have bought anyway. I have only explored a tiny part of the store, since I only had 30 minutes between teaching and my bus, so,  I’ll certainly be back.

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17 thoughts on “Gekås – The biggest store in Sweden

  1. It’s funny. As a Swede, I’d go totally blank if you mentioned Gekås. Say Ullared, though, and I’ll instantly think of the store.

  2. looks like a great store and a good walking exercise!

  3. That was not really the queue outside, was it?

    • Yes it was the queue in too the store 🙂

      I remember one time, many years ago I and my mom, dad any my siblings was going to Gekås, but my dad got angry when he saw the queue and we drove home again (almost 2 hours ride) 😛

  4. Yeah I thought the store was called Ullared? Anyway, funny story and loved the morgan & ola-conny show.

  5. I actually spent the first two thirds of my life not knowing about it! Sheltered life, in some ways, yes. I never liked the smaller mall where I live, so I best stay clear of this monster version.

  6. Good story here. Thanks. I’ve been in Sweden for a while now and never been to this place that seems to represent some key things America is about: shopping and low prices!

  7. Patriks employees used to tell me stories about this place and were very surprised to know that we haven never been there. I have to go there sometime this summer. I really what all the fuss is aboutz like how much cheaper can it be?
    See you soon meg 🙂

  8. awesome information as always!!

  9. Another excellent post Meg 😀 I think I went to Ullared once, but I was too young to really understand what the fuss was about. My wife wants to go check it out but it’s kind of far from our town outside of Stockholm to go there. Maybe we should look into lodging at the super department store’s (if that’s what we can call it?) hotel… LOL. Morgan and Ola-Conny are great, although I start to cringe and facepalm whenever I see the show, I believe that’s what the selling point of the program is.

    Thanks for another great post, I really enjoy sharing them with my wife. 😀
    Andreas

  10. It’s so interesting to read a description of Ullared/Gekås by someone who isn’t Swedish! Fascinating that Gekås is larger than the largest Walmart store, I really didn’t believe that.
    I go to Ullared occasionally with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, not because I like shopping there but because it’s the only way to get to spend a day with them without kids and other disturbances. I usually do some shopping but I’m tired of Gekås after just entering like 20 meters into the store. 🙂

  11. Ah Ullared…. Such a classic!:) I am ashamed to say that I have been living in Sweden for five years now and still haven’t been there. Chocking 😀 Thanks for this funny post 🙂

  12. That is a huge store, and I love their bags. Greetings from Montreal, Canada.

  13. I went three times when we lived down south but my inlaws go alllllll the time!

  14. Is this like a swedish walmart? If so, I’m sure its classier than any walmart could ever be (which means you are missing out on walmart fashion lol)

  15. I love learning about places, shops, food, etc. that cultures find exciting and special. I will be traveling to Sweden soon and am adding a visit to this store to my ‘must-do’ list. I am impressed that the store has its own campsite and hotel, the deals must be awesome! This has made me excited for my upcoming trip, thanks!!

  16. Just left Ullared. Underwhelming. It’s like Överskottsbolaget multiplied by Wal-Mart, stuffed with Swedish pikeys. With a 25% VAT, it’s hard to say anything in Sweden is cheap but I did find prices a bit lower than Gothenburg sale prices.

    US and A outlets demolish this place in terms of value and name brand merchandise.

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