There is a department store in Sweden so large that it has become the country’s most popular visitor attraction, averaging five million visitors a year.
The superstore – Gekas Ullared – attracts so many visitors that two hotels, a motel, several log cabin rentals and a campground have been built nearby for overnight stays.
With an area of 40,400 square meters, it is one of the world’s largest department stores and the largest in Scandinavia – it consists of 22 departments selling an estimated 100,000 products from electronics to clothing.
The average shopper travels 230 km (140 miles) to get to the store, which is set in the northeastern town of Ullared in Halland County.
Known for its low prices, it often has huge queues on Saturdays during peak season, with the queue once reaching 1.4 km (more than one-eighth of a mile) long.
Gekas Ullared superstore in Sweden is so huge that it has become the most popular visitor attraction in the country
With 40,400 square meters (434,900 sq ft), it is one of the world’s largest department stores and the largest in Scandinavia
Store manager Jan Wallberg acknowledged the store’s status as a tourist attraction, telling the Berliner Morgenpost in 2016: ‘Gekas Ullared is not just a department store. It’s a travel destination. You come here for the total experience. People also go to Paris to shop, just like we do.’
The history of Gekas Ullared dates back to 1963 when founder Goran Karlsson opened the original shop on the ground floor of a house in the city. It initially focused on selling cheap ladies’ cleaning coats and men’s car coats, and as business boomed, the store expanded into the new, larger premises it now occupies.
Known across the country, it was previously the subject of a docu-drama series called Ullared, and King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden even paid it a visit in 2013 while touring Halland County.
The superstore – Gekas Ullared – attracts so many visitors that two hotels, a motel, several log cabins and a campsite (above) have been built nearby. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
One Tripadvisor user described the store as a “shopping mecca” while another said it is “extremely large.” Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Store manager Jan Wallberg said earlier: ‘Gekas Ullared is not just a department store. It’s a travel destination’
The superstore is known for its low prices and often has huge queues on Saturdays during high season
The store’s website states, “Our business idea is to sell everything for the home that fits in a car at unbeatably low prices.”
There are 3,200 parking spaces in the parking garage of the superstore, the caravan and motorhome area has room for approximately 100 vehicles and the bus parking area has room for a maximum of 45 buses.
One of the hotels, Hotel Ulla, is a four-minute drive from the mall, while the second, newer hotel – ‘Hotellet’ – is less than a five-minute walk away. With rooms splashed with yellow accents from the superstore’s logo, Hotellet has been described as a “cosy place to land after a day at the department store.” Prices for a double room start from £72 per night.
Upstairs are shoppers outside the rental cabin complex. The average customer travels 230 km (140 miles) to get to the store
Pictured is the Timmerstugan Log Cabin Rental, which can accommodate up to six customers
Owned by the superstore, hotel ‘Hotellet’ is described as a ‘cosy place to land after a day at the department store’
When visitors tire of bargain hunting, there are rides outside the large superstore to enjoy – including a hot tub experience (above)
There are 3,200 parking spaces in the superstore’s parking garage
A cheaper alternative is the motel even closer to the shopping complex – a room for four people costs £56 per night.
When visitors tire of bargain hunting, there are attractions beyond the large superstore to enjoy – there’s a padel court, a 950 square meter children’s playground, a miniature golf course, a sauna experience with wood-fired hot tubs and even a ski slope in the winter months.
User ‘Laggeman’ left a review for the department store on Tripadvisor describing it as a ‘shopping mecca’, while reviewer ‘Mrskrun’ said, ‘The store is huge… the prices are unbelievable.’
Meanwhile, user ‘OrangeViking’ advised travelers: ‘Avoid [the] last week of the month in which pensions and wages are paid. Also avoid general holiday periods, because it can get really crazy here.’