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Siv's Scandinavian Gift Shop an Ellington Town Staple

Siv Harvey has opened her home to the town and given people a window to Scandinavia.

The Scandinavian Gift Shop opened 49 years ago in the Ellington Center Plaza and Siv Harvey still runs the shop, now out of her home, across the street from its original location.

"It took time for the townspeople to get used to modern Scandinavian designs," Harvey said. "And the old-timers looked at prices and gasped for air because they were so high!"

Harvey sells imports from Scandinavia, like porcelain, jewelry, ornaments and crystal. She also sells traditional Scandinavian foods.

Louanne Hoffman bakes bread, and Harvey calls it one of her most popular items.

"It's hazardous to your waist, but it's worth it," she said.

Harvey moved to the United States from Sweden in 1957. She went back and forth until she moved to Somers in 1961, where she lived until she came to Ellington five years later.

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But opening a Scandinavian shop in Ellington was an easy decision for Harvey. All someone had to do was ask.

"I said okay!" Harvey stated.

Harvey enlarged, twice. She switched from the Church Street to Maple Street.

"I wasn't going to do retail after 33 years," she said. "But people were so upset. They missed the Scandinavian Gift Shop."

Sixteen years later, she's still in business and feeling the rush of the holidays, her busiest time of year. 

"Christmas is a busy time," Harvey said.

She sees an average of 20 to 25 people on the days she's open. And customers come from all over, like upstate New York, and then there are the regulars.

"I have customers who came in this week who've been coming the last 35 years," Harvey said.

She went on to joke, "It's fun. You wonder if they're still going to be alive, they wonder the same about me!"

But Harvey's customers are the reason she stays open. They're her favorite part about the shop.

"They're not really customers," she said. "They're more like friends."

Harvey says that she doesn't really miss anything about Sweden, but just wishes her friends and family were all here.

"It would be so lovely to have them closer by," she said. "But I do go back and they come here to visit."

And Harvey keeps her Swedish roots through the Scandinavian Gift Shop.

"And I get a social life," she said.

Phyllis Mantie December 07, 2012 at 02:52 PM
SO PLEASED TO READ YOUR STORY ABOUT SIV AND HER BEAUTIFUL STORE. IT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN AN ASSET TO THE TOWN OF ELLINGTON! SHE IS SO PERSONABLE THAT IT IS TRULY A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE TO VISIT WITH HER AND SEE THIS MARVELOUS CULTURE SHE HAS INTRODUCED US TO FOR ALL THESE YEARS. CONGRATULATIONS TO HER. PHYLLIS MANTIE
Candy Thomas December 07, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Siv ~ I miss not stopping by this year. Hopefully, I'll be down soon. You are a wonderful friend of the family. Congratulations on 49 years. I'm getting old! I remember when you opened. Candy, Mike & Lynn
Marcia D. Walenta December 09, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Siv, Loved the article which is long overdue. I remember the beginning when I met you and we were both expecting. I also remember being unable to stay out of your shop, across the street. I have many wonderful Scandinavian items on my tree and in my home. But the best item I acquired, in this shop, is our friendship. We have a long and wonderful history as do our families. People should come to the shop to experience your warmth and hospitality and browse all the treasurers. My best from NH to Elington. Marcia
betty knight December 09, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I absolutely love Siv Harvey's Scandinavian Gift Shop!! It reminds me of one of the shops in Gamla Stan, Sweden. Siv has done an excellent job keeping the store in Ellington all these years. She is the nicest lady to buy things from--very helpful and in fact, she even helps me pronounce some Swedish words I recently learned. I have a beautiful collection of Swedish items from Siv's shop that my husband purchased for me, probably beginning in 1975. I especially like the Dala horses! It is so nice to see the Scandinavian Gift Shop on Tolland Patch! Betty Knight

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