Explore & Learn > The Digital Museum > From War to Industry > Fiskars Värdshus and the Shop

Fiskars Värdshus and the Shop

Even though trading in the beginning of the 19th century was still restricted to cities with trading rights, such as Tammisaari, the owner of Fiskars ironworks, Johan Jacob von Julin, managed to get permission to ship goods to Pohjankuru by his own ship. In 1836, he had an inn built in Fiskars. It had a tavern and a store, and was built according to drawings by A.F. Granstedt. Downstairs, there were four rooms and a kitchen, and upstairs, there were seven rooms. Possibly the shop was located in the rooms of Lukaali from the beginning. The rooms upstairs were for travellers, and the shopkeeper, who also took care of the tavern, lived there as well. Later on, the shop office was upstairs.

At first, the inn was managed by a private merchant who had a contract with the Fiskars company. Because of shortage of products, the company decided to take over the business, and in 1917 it founded the Fiskars minuthandel retail. The shop paid good dividends to those who used it; in the 1940’s they amounted to four per cent. In 1949, there was talk of closing the store, but the villagers appealed to the Fiskars company so that the shop could continue and be renovated. The shop continued in Värdhus until 1959. Pojo handelslag, which previously owned a butcher’s shop in Fiskars, expanded and carried on shopkeeping at the ironworks after the minuthandel closed.

Ninni the Shop Clerk

Ninni Henriksson worked as a shop clerk in Fiskars minuthandel in 1949-1959. She remembers how, in the beginning, when she still wasn’t used to the work, it was difficult to measure bulk goods and put them in the right bags. The shop sold all kinds of things from fabrics and crochet thread to tobacco and horse shoes. Most of the groceries were sold as bulk goods, such as flour, hulled grains, sugar, yeast, coffee and sweets. Ninni remembers that, in time of rationing, every shop clerk was responsible for a box which contained about ten kilos of coffee. They all had to know how to give the right amount of coffee in exchange for coupons. There was a barrel of herring in the back room, and drinks, such as lemon soda, were stored in a cellar outside. There was also a small petrol pump in front of the shop. All sales were marked down on a receipt, and one part of the receipt was then marked in the accounting books. Every shop clerk had his own cash drawer to take care of. There could be up to six clerks working simultaneously in the shop.

Owners of Värdhus
1860’s Galle
1871-1917 Karl Grelin
1917-1959 Fiskars Ab

Workers’ own shop

The monopoly of a private shopkeeper at the ironworks led to prices going up at the end of the 19th century, which made the economic situation of the workers, who earned little, even worse. In a meeting, a group of workers decided to found their own co-operative store, which was named Pohja osuusyhdistys, and it had no extra responsibilities. Since the private shopkeeper was the only one who had the right to trade in Fiskars, they were forced to put the store up in Bollsta, three kilometres from the ironworks. It was opened in April 1st, 1903. It eventually became a success, and had branch stores all over Uusimaa. Shopkeeper T.E. Karhu finally made it into a big enterprise in the 1920’s. A lot was bought from Karjaa to build a main office and central warehouse, and the name of the association was changed into Länsi-Uudenmaan Osuusyhdistys i.l. In 1941, the name was again changed, this time into Osuusliike Konsum.


Karhu T.E, Karhu Eeva (toim.): Konsum 50 år vuotta 1903-1953.
Pojo Andelsförening/Pohjan Osuuskauppa 1903-1913. (1913)
Västra-Nylands Andelsförening u.t. 1903-1923. (1923)

Unpublished sources:

Gripenberg, Margaretha: Fiskars Värdshus uppfört 1836. Fiskars museum
Interview about Fiskars, LBA 32. Pohja localhistory archive
The cooperation in Fiskars, exhibitions texts. Fiskars museum