Tønsberg, doing my bit for my hometown

This Saturday I was invited by the chamber of commerce in my hometown Tønsberg to add a little #dadstyle to their Autumn event. Not something I’d usually feel very comfortable with, but there isn’t much competition locally in the category “Middleaged male bloggers into traditional men’s style”, so it was down to me to represent the men of the town. It’s kind of a worthy cause to support though, as Tønsberg is feeling the pressure of changes in consumerism like so many places. A vibrant town centre is important on so many levels, not least the social aspect. Once the streets are interspersed with empty shops it rapidly goes downhill, and people stop visiting, the coffee places and restaurants struggle and when rigor mortis sets in the vape shops are not far off.

And Tønsberg is really a nice place. The oldest town in Norway, an old Viking seat and due to a great climate, where many come to holiday. It’s not too large, and not too small, a place where most people can find appropriate housing available, and with enough people living outside the town to make it more viable than if it just catered for its direct population. It’s a hotspot in the Summer and quiet in the Winter and has one of the nicest libraries in Norway, a library that is open even on Sundays.

One of the Viking longboats handmade by the sea in Tønsberg.

One of the Viking longboats handmade by the sea in Tønsberg.

So what could I do to save the town centre? Turn up, visit places relevant to men and do some social media about it. I was promised a limousine, but the council and police feared the hordes of fans as a top blogger arrived in town and turned it down. Quite the ego boost that the authorities consider me a threat to organised society. I did get to borrow an electric scooter though, which was fun and scary in equal measures.

No limo for top bloggers today, only scary electric scooters!

No limo for top bloggers today, only scary electric scooters!

So what did I get to do? I actually started out by taking the bus to town. Buses may not be perfect, but they’re better than roads choked by cars. Our local buses run on biofuel made from the local food and biowaste, so they’re both environmentally friendly and sustainable.

I’m hesitant to even mention it, as it’s far outside my usual scope: A facial treatment. Truth be told though it was a pleasant experience and I did feel quite fresh of face afterwards. Apparently, quite a few men go there as well, yet it’s not something guys talk about. Next up a trip to my regular barbershop. This was something I’d been wanting to arrange for weeks now, so the sweet relief of having my unruly locks shorn was wonderful. It’s good to have a place you trust to take care of your hair.

Next up I visited two of the towns many menswear stores to have them run a few outfits by me. There’s no shortage of quality clothes for men around and I was impressed by the quality of the advice given. My personal style may be a little more eclectic than the typical man, but there was definitely a good selection of styles to be found here. I let them deal the cards, dress me up in what they thought would look good. The Internet will be the judge of their success!

The town square was bustling today, as on many Saturdays. Food trucks and stalls, market stalls, a promotion of the new electric Jaguar and so forth. And people milling around everywhere, meeting friends and talking.

Tasting the street food on the town square courtesy of Herr & Fru.

Tasting the street food on the town square courtesy of Herr & Fru.

There was a huge span in my activities, as after lunch at a locally owned place, it was onwards to an optician to see their stylist. A complicated equation between personal style, facial features and trends, we did actually end up with a pair that had onlookers nodding. Not bad for a 10-minute session.

From there onwards to the towns top deli for a whistle-stop tour of their fine wares. From shark meat to ecological wild salmon, from craft sausages to dry-cured meats, the selection was mouth-watering. And the Italian manager is definitely the most passionate shopkeeper in town!

"And this meat has been dry hung for 6 weeks", being schooled by Fabrizio and Tønsberg Deli.

“And this meat has been dry hung for 6 weeks”, being schooled by Fabrizio and Tønsberg Deli.

A local independent florist had kindly made me a wonderful bouquet to present to my wife. Knowing a good florist is important for a gentleman and although getting to know one can be awkward, it pays off in making future purchases that much easier!

"Flowers don't solve all problems, but they're a great start". Best bring a bouquet home from Tornerose!

“Flowers don’t solve all problems, but they’re a great start”. Best bring a bouquet home from Tornerose!

Further onwards to a local perfume shop, one of the last independent shops of its kind in the country, to be introduced to the world of male scents. Again not something I normally deal in, but in the spirit of being open to new experiences, I left the shop smelling quite different from when I entered. The home stretch was much easier, visiting the local craft beer shop for an introduction to their vast array of weird and wonderful beers. I was keen to see their selection of cider as well, though it’s clear beer is still the reigning champ of bottled goods. At this point, I was feeling quite faint, so it was perfect timing for dinner with the family. A wonderful dinner was enjoyed before retiring back home.

Tired after a long day meeting people, asking questions and listening, I think the town is doing pretty well these days. There are tricky times ahead though for everyone in consumer commerce. Online giants are making inroads and the large shopping centres are vacuuming out the town centres. If you appreciate your local independent shops, use them today, or they’ll be gone tomorrow. And once gone they’re unlikely to come back. Do we need more vape shops?

Almost all the places I visited were locally owned, independent shops, situated outside the shopping centre. I find it quite heartwarming to see that they are both able to keep going and provide genuine service at times when consumers are faced with so many choices.

A coffee at With, watching the world outside.

A coffee at With, watching the world outside.

This is not a paid or a sponsored piece, although I can confirm there is such a thing as a free lunch. And dinner. But that’s all. And notice how I didn’t mention “hygge” at all?

Thanks to:

A quick ride in a new Range Rover Velar from Branko's Auto.

A quick ride in a new Range Rover Velar from Branko’s Auto.


1 Comment

  • Magnus Holm 24/09/2018 at 19:45

    Tønsberg really is doing quite well, I think. And With is a really good choice for coffee and lunch.


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