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Alison In The Dark #1: The Grocery Store

Written by Alison Trimmer

Photo: Broadstone - Visit Helgeland

Hi everyone!

Stopping by to introduce myself. My name is Alison and I moved to Mo i Rana at the beginning of 2023 from the United States. I’ll be writing a few articles here and there about what I’m learning as I live in Norway and try to share the experiences of being a beginner.

Starting again is difficult. Moving to a new place is difficult. Moving to a new country, a new continent, with new languages and social customs and holidays and on and on and on… it’s hard. But in my limited experience, Mo i Rana has been unbelievably (and unusually) open, inviting, kind, and welcoming. With the new Freyr factory opening, a lot of new people are going to be coming to Mo i Rana. From what I’ve seen, you are ready to welcome these newcomers with open arms. I’m so grateful to be one of you.

I look forward to meeting you!

Alison Trimmer, Photo by Thomas S. Jensen

The Grocery Store

Food is good – I think we can all agree on that. And while ordering food from restaurants is delicious, it’s also wildly expensive, so finding (and understanding) the grocery store is the first thing on your list.

Now, I will say that I have a little bit of experience with our grocery stores here in Norway. I married my partner of the last eight years (who I will be referring to from now on as The Fella) last summer and had visited Norway many times in the years before moving, so a lot of these observations are years old.

You have to go through a gate to get in…

When entering the grocery store, you will most likely have to go through a little swinging gate. The gate is automatic and is one-way (meaning you can’t go out the same gate). You’ll find this in many stores and is pretty common.

… and sometimes to get out.

Some stores also have a gate to get out. Less common, but definitely not unusual. If you pay for your purchases with a cashier, there will probably not be a gate.

The get out gate

But sometimes, the gates are locked.

You’ll find this most often in self-check-out lanes in grocery stores, where you have to exit a gate after paying for your groceries. You walk up to it and it doesn’t open! The answer? Scan your receipt! There will be a barcode at the bottom of your receipt and a little scanning tower next to the gate, usually on the right hand side.

The self check out scanner

Self-check-out vs. in-person

Many grocery stores will have the option to use self-check-out or to go visit a cashier. For me, the biggest difference is if you want to buy tobacco products, you’ve gotta do it at the in-person check-out. At the self-check-out, you may be asked to sign your receipt or to get your ID checked for purchasing alcohol.

Common phrases

As an American going through the grocery store, this was the thing in the beginning that shook me the most. I had about twenty words in my Norwegian vocabulary and none of them had to do with shopping (for the record, my first favorite Norwegian word was pingvin, after having spent some time at the Bergen Aquarium). There are three common questions I hear most often and want to make sure you know them too. I usually hear these in the form of a one word question, so imagine me saying this to you with a question mark at the end.

  1.  Pose (pronounced poo-suh) means bag. You don’t get bags for free so, if you need one, you’ll need to ask for it!
  2. Medlem or Medlemmer means member/members. I get this more at home goods stores, but if you are a member of their rewards program, this is where you’ll usually give your phone number to pull up your account.
  3. Kvittering means receipt

Speaking of bags…

You’ll need to bring your own if you don’t want to buy one. The perks are that they’re fairly inexpensive and probably the nicest plastic bag you’ll ever find at the grocery store, but if you have tote bags available already, I’d recommend keeping some in your car or in your coat pocket. Another thing that I really didn’t expect? You’ll need to bag all of your own groceries. In the beginning, I felt really rushed, but you’ll get more fluid with it as time goes on.

Are there sales?

You bet! Most of the grocery stores put out a weekly ad where they will advertise the groceries on sale for the week. There are also big signs in the store itself. To keep track of them all, I use the eTilbudsavis app. I’ve found that, when it’s on sale, meat tends to sell out fastest, followed by bread.

Specific equipment

Alright y’all, we gotta talk about it. If you buy a loaf of bread, you can get one that’s pre-sliced, but the majority of the bread will be in fresh loaves, completely uncut. Next to the bread, there’s a big silver machine that will cut the bread for you. It takes practice, but is totally possible to figure out. The Fella is an expert at the bread machine, I am but a humble apprentice.

Also, you may notice up to four different types of carts! The big cart, the basket, the convertible large-basket-with-wheels thing that you can pull around, and even a mini cart for kiddos! Experiment, use whatever feels best. There’s no right or wrong answer here – I promise – but you may need to grab a cart before you head through the gates!

The Discount Bin

In almost every store, there’s a little nook carved out for things that are just about to pass their best by date and are deeply discounted. Often, there’s a little refrigerator and a shelf for dry goods. Always check it out, especially if you don’t know what to eat for dinner!

The Post Office?

Sort of! Post offices are not very common here in Norway, so many times the grocery store is the way to go! Many packages will get sent straight to the Bunnpris or to one of the postal lockers in town. If you need stamps, you may need to flag someone down! Most postal services can be done online at

As I learn more about the grocery store, and other quirks about shopping in Norway, I’ll share them with you here.

Sending you so much love, don’t forget to eat, and have a glass of water.

xoxo, Alison