Hjo Sik - a classic in the harbour
A man named Bengt, a VW Camper and a trunk full of fish - the beginning of Hjo Sik!
A man named Bengt, a VW Camper and a trunk full of fish! Well, that’s how it all started, sometime in the late 1950s – the beginning of the small fish shop Hjo Sik, that’s been around in the harbour for as long as we can remember. If you’ve not been, you’ve probably heard of it, or seen it in a picture; the iconic “fishing hut”.
The birth of Hjo Sik
A lot has happened since the 1950s and Bengt’s VW Camper. A store has been built, grown, and developed. Bengt handed Hjo Sik over to his son, Klas, after a few years of driving through the countryside around Hjo selling fish out of his VW-trunk. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It already started with Klas’ grandfather, Rune. He married Klas’grandmother, Birgit, who came from an old fishing family. So Rune was actually the one who started selling fish in the countryside around Hjo. And then, after that, his son-in-law Bengt took over the business. However, in the 1960s all business was permanently moved to the harbour due to the Whitefish Day event.
The Whitefish Day event
The Whitefish Day event was a way of selling the otherwise leftover and unwanted whitefish. As the event grew in popularity as did the taste for whitefish, and the need for a permanent place where you could buy the fish. When Bengt also came up with the brilliant idea that whitefish could be smoked, the harbour was soon flooded with tourists who wanted to buy the new local delicacy. It was at this point, 1966, that Hjo Sik was born, one of only a few dedicated fish shops that still remain in Sweden.
Starting out as a 6-year old
Klas was born in 1959. As the son of a fish shop owner, Klas’ fate was already decided. He would follow in his father’s footsteps. Even at just 6 years old, Klas remembers making his own way through town, down to the harbour to help his father in the shop. “Maybe I just got in the way, it depends who you ask,” he laughs. The years went by, and that little 6-year-old eventually started working in the shop over the summer, and after his national service in 1979, he started working full-time. Father and son worked side by side for many years until Bengt retired. Klas took over the store completely in 1989.
Over 40 years in business
For over 40 years, Klas has welcomed Hjo residents and tourists alike to his small fish shop by the harbour. It’s a popular destination to buy fish from Lake Vättern, or from the sea. The shop, which was renovated and modernised in 2011, now also houses a lunch restaurant where you can sample the classic smoked fish. So, when you’re wandering past the harbour, take the opportunity to sneak into Hjo Sik, say hi to Klas, buy a lunch box, sit down on the pier and enjoy a delicious classic that’s been around forever - smoked whitefish with potato salad. Yum!
Photographer: Jesper Anhede