The opening of Costco in Iceland: Unexpected meanings of globalized phenomenon

Kristín Loftsdóttir, Már Wolfgang Mixa


The multinational retailer, Costco, opened its first store in Iceland during spring 2017. Not only was the opening greatly anticipated but following the store opening, Costco became one of the key issues in the Icelandic media. Our analysis focuses on Costco’s opening from insights derived from theories of globalization of mobility, where we emphasize that discussions about Costco in Iceland cannot be separated from the post-crash atmosphere after the massive economic crash in 2008. Our perspective is particularly influenced by Tsing’s (2005) emphasis on the unpredictability of global phenomena that move around and transplant in a new context. Our analysis both contextualize Costco’s arrival within Iceland’s historical and social context and analyzes some of the main themes in the Icelandic media discussion during the opening. The dualistic opposition of ‘us’ (Icelanders) against ‘them’ (foreigners), which has been quite salient in Iceland, were largely invisible in discussions about Costco’s opening. Costco in Iceland was quickly incorporated into a discourse as a positive force against Icelandic corruption that started after the crash. The ‘us against them’ themes thus turned from being ‘Icelanders against foreigners’ into ‘the Icelandic population against Iceland’s elite retail sector.


Costco; Iceland; globalization; post-crash.


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