Like other countries in the Far North, produce, tobacco and alcohol are expensive due to the tremendous distance they must travel to get to this isolated territory. Greenland has four major supermarkets, but the best bargains can be found at the local Kalaaliavaq markets held near ports, otherwise known as “the Board.” Shoppers can purchase fresh fish, meat and berries directly from the people who hunted, caught or picked them every day, but Sunday.
The Great Greenland fur company specializes in sealskin items, but nearly all communities have their own arts and crafts workshops where visitors can purchase unique souvenirs made from locally sourced materials. The stones used to make jewelry were unearthed from South Greenland’s mountains, but Greenland’s most unusual souvenirs are the tupilak soapstone lamps and figurines carved in the likenesses of creatures who have caused misfortune or death. Today, tupilaks are purely ornamental and meticulously hand carved from reindeer antlers or walrus teeth.
One shop near Nuuk’s colonial town specializes in handmade sealskin gloves, while the Musk Ox shop next to Kangerlussuaq Airport mainly sells products made from musk ox wool. Obtain a CITES export permit before you try to buy anything made from animal parts or pass through customs in order to guarantee items were not made from an endangered species. Make sure you carry cash when shopping in Greenland, too, as many merchants still do not accept debit or credit cards.