When driving towards Gothenburg from the south you will at some point see a life-sized Mario sticking out above the treeline, standing on his iconic green pipe. This statue stands on Mario’s Street, surrounded by little signs with Nintendo trivia. While it may not seem like much, this is the location of the first Swedish distributor of Nintendo products, as well as the only distributor not owned by Nintendo.
The story begins with a young entrepreneur named Owe Bergsten, who founded a small electronics company called Bergsala along with Pierre Sandsten and Lars-Göran Larsson. In 1981 Bergsten came across the Nintendo Game and Watch on a business trip and brought back some samples. He was impressed with the device and convinced his partners to invest in the product. Bergsten reached out to Nintendo, bluffing a bit about the size of his business and its connections in the Scandinavian market. But the company took the bait and the two made an exclusive deal for the Game and Watch handhelds.
At first, it proved hard to sell them, but things picked up when a deal was struck with a watch distributor. The initial order of 30,000 units was sold, and soon Bergsala was moving as many as 180,000 of the devices every month. By 1983, 1.7 million consoles had been sold in Sweden.
Eventually, Nintendo opened its own branch in Europe, but the relationship between the two companies remained good and Scandinavian rights have always gone through Bergsala.
A Super Mario statue has stood outside Bergsala since the 1980s as a symbol of the collaboration between the two companies. However, the first iteration was not a perfect match for Mario. In 2016, the statue was replaced by one that is truer to Mario’s official design. It has stood there ever since overlooking the highway, in the middle of a little park filled with Mario trivia.
Know Before You Go
The statue is freely accessible.