New neighbors

Design and traditional foods take center stage at Scandinavian Butik. Photo courtesy Scandinavian Butik.

Design and traditional foods take center stage at Scandinavian Butik. Photo courtesy Scandinavian Butik.

Scandinavian Butik brings design and special foods to Norwalk, Conn.

By Christy Olsen Field

Norwegian American Weekly

The Scandinavian Butik is a newcomer to the Nordic community, but it’s become a special place for Scandinavians of all kinds in Norwalk, Conn.

Scandinavian Butik is owned by Doris Levene and Marianne Beresford. Both women are originally from Denmark, and came over to the U.S. in the early 1980s. The two connected as friends in Connecticut about 20 years ago and celebrate their Danish roots.

After being interested in buying an existing store which didn’t work out, Doris started thinking about opening one herself.

“In the spring of 2010, Doris asked me, ‘What about starting a store?’ I thought about it and said, ‘It will be a lot of work, but let’s try it,’” reflects Marianne. “The funny thing is that I have, like Doris whose parents had a retail store in Denmark, wanted to do a store for a long time. I have always been interested in Danish design and Scandinavian design as a whole. But it is a bit daunting to do it alone, so we decided to do it together.”

The Scandinavian Butik opened in Wilton, Conn., in the fall of 2010, and moved to their new location at 349 Main Ave. in Norwalk in the fall of 2011, just two miles down the road.

Both Levene and Beresford have children who are going off to college soon, so they see the store as a fun project to share as friends.

“We don’t want to have ‘empty nest syndrome,’ so this is something we could work on and keep it going… It’s fun and a lot of work, and it’s going really well.”

Today, the Scandinavian Butik is a family affair: their kids work in the shop and help with different parts of the business (such as the website), and their husbands help out too.

The store highlights the best of Scandinavia by specializing in food and design. Products with the fresh, clean lines of Scandinavia design are central to the store’s identity, including lines from Ferm Living, Menu, Design House Stockholm, Scanwood and more. Marianne sources the products from importers, and works to expand their offerings from Danish, Norwegian and Swedish designers.

As food is an integral part of staying connected to heritage, Scandinavian Butik offers a wide variety of traditional foods. Different breads, meatballs, frikadeller and other products are made in-house, and the store sells baked goods, condiments, meats and more. This spring, they look forward to opening their café for people to gather and share quality Nordic dishes.

In the short amount of time since opening their doors, Scandinavian Butik is now a favorite community place for all things Scandinavian. The store draws people who have Scandinavian heritage and want to connect to their roots, and even some Americans who want to learn what the region is all about.

“My favorite part of the job is meeting all the people and connecting with visitors. People are so enthusiastic and very sweet, and we get a great mix from all the countries,” said Beresford. “It’s really fun to learn about Swedish and Norwegian traditions. Even though we are ‘neighbors,’ we have a lot to learn from each other!” she added.

Beresford shared her experience this past Christmas with pinnekjøtt, the traditional and well-loved Norwegian Christmas dish of dried lamb ribs: “We got pinnekjøtt in the store in time for Christmas, but we didn’t know how it was served. We had to ask some Norwegians who came in to the store, ‘What do you do with this?’ It was really fun!”

Scandinavian Butik is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The store located at 349 Main Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851. For more information (and to order online if you’re not in the area!), visit www.scandinavianbutik.com or call (203) 529-3244.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 10, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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