Gun’s place

The world was different in 1964 when Gun opened her little store from what it looked like in 2004 when she decided to retire and sell the tiny store. You may think the city’s always looked the same, especially around her store, because the store is on the ground floor of a big old stone building, and was there even before Gun – but it hasn’t.


Take the tram garage, for example, right across the street. There are no trams in the garage anymore, because there are no trams in the city. Well, there’s one line, I suppose, but not where the garage is and oddly enough, trams need tracks.

Anyway, Gun used to sit there all day every day, except on Sundays, for almost fifty years. She was two months short of her fiftieth anniversary when the deal went through. Yup, a lot has changed since those early days. Even the King of Sweden isn’t the same king, and the new one is about to become the longest-reigning monarch. Heck, back when Gun opened her store, she figured it was a good spot because there was a lot of traffic and the cars drove past right outside her door, and while it still does, the traffic now flows the other direction.

They used to drive from right to left, now the cars go left to right.

That day, the H day – H for höger, right in Swedish – when Sweden switched from left-side traffic to right-hand side, Gun was sitting behind the counter early in the morning, and she couldn’t help but chuckle when she looked at the cars driving by her store, so slowly, very carefully.

Gun was in the store with her ear on the radio when Ingemar Stenmark won Olympic gold, she was there when Björn Born beat John McEnroe in Wimbledon, and she had been there when Tomas Brolin and the boys came home from America after the World Cup. It was in the store she heard the news about Olof Palme’s assassination (and she was sure the murderer was a man who had been at the store that morning).

One morning, about two weeks after ABBA had won the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the guys in the band, Björn or Benny, stepped inside Gun’s store to get a pack of gum. He was very polite, Gun thought.

In the 1990s, Gun started to feel her age. Not that she still couldn’t put in a good day’s work, because she could, and did, it was just that the Sundays weren’t enough to recover from the working week. She had hoped that one of the kids would like to take over the store, but they hadn’t shown any interest in it, not then, anyway, and it turned out in the end, not ever.

American tourists regularly walked in to see if they could buy a gun there. It had been funny the first time because Gun had drawn a stick figure of herself, and written “Gun” next to it, and the Americans hadn’t understood it at all. When she then somehow managed to tell them there were no guns, just one Gun, they all had had a good laugh about it.

The second time it happened, it wasn’t as funny, and Gun really didn’t have any time for the giggling teenagers showing up explaining they wanted to get a gun, trying to be funny. Besides, she had every right to turn them away, since she was selling cigarettes and pipe tobacco.

Even if her kids didn’t want to take over the store, Gun was happy when her son offered to take care of the sale. He was a lawyer, and he knew how to take care of the paperwork. Still, it took him three years to find a buyer, but Gun didn’t mind, not really.

“We took over in 2004, but we decided to keep the name. Everybody here knows the place as “Gun’s store” anyway,” says the new owner.

Now that was sweet, Gun thought. And smart.

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