Out of Scandinavia

out-of-scandinaviaOnline-only store reaches customers through social media and e-marketing

By Kelsey Larson

Norwegian American Weekly

Out of Scandinavia is not your typical Scandinavian specialty store. With two feet firmly rooted in the 21st century, Lisa Jorgensen runs her store completely online, through an Ebay store and through her website, outofscandinavia.com. There is no brick-and-mortar store; she relies on email marketing, Facebook, and other social media to spread the word. Being Internet-exclusive, however, creates a host of new possibilities. Jorgensen explains the advantages: she doesn’t need as many employees; she can outsource (for example, though she is located in Middleboro, Mass., her shipments go out from Michigan); and it makes sense for inventory, as well. “Online, you don’t have a space limitation,” she says.

There is one disadvantage. “What I miss is working with people. It’s kind of a solitary endeavor,” laughs Jorgensen.

Despite this, Jorgensen says she encounters many wonderful people throughout the course of her work. “They send me the most lovely emails and notes…people find this meaningful and they find the items meaningful,” she says. Jorgensen is of the firm opinion that Scandinavians love Americans, and vice versa!

She would know: Jorgensen spent her childhood in Denmark, and her grandparents were Norwegian. Her grandfather was a Norwegian tennis star in the 40s. While watching Swedish TV channels in Denmark, Jorgensen also picked up Swedish at a young age: she is truly what one might call a pan-Scandinavian-American. She is proud of her Danish roots and is very proud to be a U.S. citizen. It all came together five years ago when she started Out of Scandinavia.

“I started getting frustrated around Christmas time because I couldn’t find all the special things that I remembered from my childhood in Denmark,” she says.  She started importing the things she missed. Soon she was also putting in orders for friends, and eventually she realized that there was a definite market for such imported gifts. “It started out as a little hobby,” she says. Soon, it blossomed into a full-time job. “I love what I do, I don’t think of this as work,” she says. “It’s very fulfilling.”

The store’s name, Out of Scandinavia, is a tribute to Jorgensen’s brother Kim. He was the executive producer of the Oscar-winning film “Out of Africa.” In this way, the name honors her brother and his important work for Denmark while remaining pan-Scandinavian. The store features an array of Scandinavian music, sølje jewelry, kurbits designs, Nordic music, Swedish dala horses, Scandinavian Christmas decorations, Scandinavian textiles, trolls, Viking gifts and more.

With November rolling around, things at Out of Scandinavia are very busy; holiday items are always best sellers. But Jorgensen doesn’t mind the busy season. “I’ve had a full corporate life, and this feels like such a breath of fresh air. People are just charming and interesting,” she says. After experiencing Scandinavian culture first-hand as a child, Jorgensen is more than happy to help others experience their heritage. “It is amazing to see how rich that experience is for them,” she says. “Even if they didn’t come from Scandinavia themselves, their grandparents did, and they can capture that heritage and pass it along through to their kids.”

To learn more about Out of Scandinavia, visit the website at outofscandinavia.com, search “Out of Scandinavia” on Facebook or call (508) 947-1191.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 11, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.