I just discovered that the Scandinavian Gift Shop in Ballard is closing

When in Ballard for SeafoodFest, I was saddened to discover that one of the last remaining Scandinavian businesses in Ballard, the Scandinavian Gift Shop, is closing. They were in their final stages of "everything must go!", and I picked up a small number of Glad Påsk greeting cards, some pretty napkins (including a set that would be illegal if U.S. law applied to the Swedish flag), and a dozen tiny Swedish flag stick-pins. Fortunately, Olsen's Scandinavian Foods is still there, because you never know when you're going to get a hankering for some homemade pickled herring.

I don't get to Ballard very often during business hours, but when I do, I try to make a point of vising Olsen's just to browse around the store, amuse myself at all the Norwegian packaging (most of the stuff comes from Norway), and maybe pick up an item or two. I think the previous time I was there, one of the Endresen sisters was working the register, because she very politely translated the instructions on the back of a package of asparagus soup for me. I would have waved her off and saved her the trouble, except I didn't know what vann was. (I now know that it is vatten = water.)

Comments (8)
  1. mikeb says:

    Hey – here’s a non-software nitpick!

    Saying flag napkins "would be illegal if U.S. law applied to the Swedish flag" is a bit strong.   While there is a US Flag Code in Federal Law, there are no penalties for violating it and any attempts to enforce it (or enact penalties) would be unconstitutional under the 1st Amendment.

    So until the Flag Desecration Amendment is actually passed, you can legally do pretty much anything you want to the US Flag and its images (though that doesn’t mean you won’t get hassled by ‘the Man’).

  2. erik says:

    I just moved to the Greater Seattle Area from southern California (to work at Microsoft, what else?). It’s unfortunate to hear that the Scandinavian influence is waning. Still, I’m pleased to learn that I’ll have lutefisk and the aforementioned pickled herring within a short drive. Thanks for posting about Olsen’s!

  3. ArC says:

    I can find a bunch of American flag napkin designs online, though admittedly they’ve got pictures of a flapping flag rather than the flag pattern itself laid flat on the napkin.

  4. Garry Trinder says:

    You could also just ask if any of your readers knew what "vann" was, I would of course be able to answer. :) Mostly because I’m Norwegian… ;)

  5. Mike Edwards says:

    [nitpick]should read "make a pointing of visiting Olsen’s" at the start of the second paragraph.[/nitpick]

    I always find it curious when shops that are closing have "everything must go" signs in the window. Surely that’s the whole point of a shop anyway, to sell all the stock? Perhaps if they’d stuck to that maxim for the whole life of the business, they wouldn’t be closing down now.

  6. CGomez says:

    You won’t get hassled by anyone for being disrepectful in marketing U.S. flag based products.  It happens all the time.

    I was at Valley Forge’s gift shop… a gift shop in a national park… and found Flag foldable fans, flag glasses, flag blankets, flag throws, flag pillows.  I mean, you would never fan yourself with the flag, drink from the flag, sleep on the flag, or throw the flag in a laundry hamper, but people wear shirts with the U.S. flag as the primary and only symbol on it all the time.

    Obviously it is easy to split hairs, and there are depictions that are respectful, but the general rule of respect is: "would you do x with a flag?"  If you wouldn’t throw it on your couch, you shouldn’t throw a flag couch "throw" on your couch either.

    And yes, there are no civil penalties.  The Flag Code is a code of respect and the Supreme Court has interpreted the 1st amendment also allows for the use of the flag in symbolic protest… which I agree with.  I pretty much ignore anyone who is protesting by desecrating the flag, because I think it is a sign of disrespect, so any protester has lost their message on me.  But I defend their right to trample what is really just a piece of cloth.  The flag itself as a symbol can not be destroyed.

    Still, I pay proper respect to that symbol… fold it properly, raise it properly, lower it properly, display it properly, and refrain from buying products whose only use can possibly be disrespectful (i.e. a foldable Flag fan).

    I think most Americans do not realize that a T-Shirt that has the flag displayed horizontally with the field in the upper left (at least displayed properly) with the only other words on the front "Old Navy" is not patriotic, but disrespectful to the flag.  After all, you wouldn’t throw that flag in the laundry hamper when you are done nor wear a flag.  But marketers have little respect for anything but money and convince us we are patriotic for doing so.

  7. Mike says:

    Speaking of swedish customs, have you ever tried "surströmming"? I don’t even know if you have the kind of bread "required" for it ("hårt tunnbröd"). While it indeed smells worse than a male cat pissing in territory, when not used to it, it is a delicacy with no comparison when properly prepared:

    • Hard thin bread ("hårt tunnbröd"). Break it in half.
    • Cooked potato.

    • Raw onion, finely chopped.

    • "Surströmming".

    Apply whatever ratio you prefer of mashed potato, onion and top it with "surströmming" you like on one half of the "tunnbröd". Use the other half as top. Chew. Enjoy. Drink beer, and often to celebrate the occasion (tradition is august, and I think it is originally to celebrate that food was plenty after harvest; and if so it’s probably from the 1870’s or before) you have more than one "snaps" (I believe most can see that heritage, and think "schnaps" and see it’s "on the rocks", without rocks).

    Some really hard-core "surströmming"-lovers refuse any kind of alcohol to numb the taste buds and drink milk. I don’t recommend this to beginners.

    In a week or two it’s also time for "kräftor" (crayfish). Both have their set dates, called "surströmmingspremiär" and "kräftpremiär" ("premiär" = "opening night" (though it’s not night) or simply "première").

    If CreateFile takes too many arguments, I think it’s due to a lack of surströmming and snaps. :-)

  8. Jalf says:

    "Still, I’m pleased to learn that I’ll have lutefisk and the aforementioned pickled herring within a short drive."

    Yuck. lutefisk ought to be a criminal offense. If merely wearing clothes with a flag on them can be enough to offend, then lutefisk has to be grounds for immediate invasion. ;)

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