‘End of an era’ for Vinmonopolet

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Norway’s state wine and liquor monopoly, Vinmonopolet, was ending an era this week by phasing out the last of its retail outlets where customers had to place their orders from behind a counter.

For decades, that was the norm when buying wine, liquor and even strong beer in Norway. Customers weren’t allowed to wander through aisles lined with tempting bottles. Rather, they had to use a catalogue and ask attendants behind a counter to fetch their wares. It was all part of political goals in Norway to limit consumption of alcoholic beverages by taxing them heavily and even making them difficult to purchase.

The system started being eased 12 years ago and shopping became more consumer-friendly when the first self-service Vinmonopolets opened and customers were allowed to make their own choices. This week, the last of the old-fashioned stores was due to close.

Newspaper Aftenposten reports that the store, ironically in Oslo’s otherwise chic and trendy Grünerløkka district, will reopen a week later with its counter and a piece of history gone.

Views and News staff