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Issue 59 - Shop til you Drop

Scotland Magazine Issue 59
October 2011

 

This article is 6 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Shop til you Drop

We reveal another 10 of Scotland's best retail outlets

Not content with resting on our laurels, we decided to follow up last edition’s retail heaven list with more of, what are in our opinion, some of the outlets in Scotland that get the essential shopping experience just right.

Rogerson Footwear
76 Market Street, St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9NU
Tel: +44 (0)1334 473 730 Web: www.rogersonshoes.com

Scotland has so much to offer by way of quality goods and fresh produce, a pair of comfortable shoes is a must for any shopping spree. Rogerson Footwear, St. Andrew’s oldest shoe shop certainly offers an excellent choice of quality and unusual footwear.

When Thomas Rogerson started his business in 1905, the demand was for heavy durable footwear and through the 1970s the shop’s best selling brand was Mephisto walking shoes. The business has grown, supporting 14 shops and although catering for different needs, Rogersons go to great lengths to source top quality and unique footwear. The family business is a great believer in the old saying ‘buy the best bed and the best shoes you can afford for if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.’

Jenners
48 Princes Street, Edinburgh.
Tel: 0844 800 3732 Web: www.houseoffraser.co.uk

From boots to beds, Jenners Department Store is the place for up-to-date fashion and quality household goods. In 1838 two draper’s assistants, Charles Jenner and Charles Kennington, took an unauthorised day off work to attend Musselburgh horse races and returned to find themselves unemployed.

Maybe the pair won enough to start up on their own, but wherever they found finance, on Tuesday 1st May 1838, Kennington & Jenner opened at 47 Princes Street Edinburgh. The shop was stocked with Parisian fashions, ribbons, lace, and every description of linen and drapery.

The 1930s were a pivotal decade for Paris fashion and film, and Hollywood recognised that an economic depression encouraged mass production. The film industry created glamorous, ready to wear outfits, available of course in all good Scottish department stores.

Today, the store doesn’t need to rely on Paris fashion or American films, but supports new and innovative designers as well as offering high street fashions.

The Barras
Kent Street, Glasgow
Tel: +44 (0) 141 552 4601 Web: www.glasgow-barowland.com

‘They sell tickets tae the moon, a return for half a croon.’ - sings Alistair MacDonald, describing the eclectic selection of goods on offer at Glasgow’s famous ‘Barras’ market. It was another Scottish entrepreneur, Maggie McIver (1879-1954), ‘The Barras Queen’ who built up the market from her stock of three hundred barrows for hire. The market was fuelled by women’s poverty, for women with no income could always sell second hand clothing and rags. At Christmas Maggie always treated customers and their families to a meal, a dance and a drink.

The Barras have come a long way from its ragmarket days and on Saturday and Sundays everything from vegetables to religious artefacts decorate its many and diverse stalls. The camaraderie as well as the competition still exists, ensuring the customer some fantastic bargains. In fact, it would be wise to take with you a wee bit more than half a croon (twelve and a half pence).

Harris Tweed and Knitwear
4 Plockropool, Isle of Harris HS3 3EB
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 502 040 Web: www.harristweedandknitwear.co.uk

There’s more to Harris Tweed than just jackets for gentlemen. The Harris Tweed and Knitwear Shops at Plockropool and Tarbert offer a diverse range of goods as well as weaving demonstrations.

Catherine Campbell, a member of the family owned business claims ‘the excitement of fashion designers in discovering such an attractive material and the addition of new products, has revived the interest in Harris Tweed without compromising the traditional skills’. Catherine knows all about the tradition of the cloth. Her ancestor Marion Campbell BEM was a one woman ambassador for Harris Tweed. Marion’s gift for design and colour made her work unique. In 1985 she was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours list. Marion insisted the honour was not just for her efforts but those of the whole island.

Carters Toy Shop
8 South Street, Perth PH2 8PA
Tel: + 44 (0) 01738 633 002 Web: www.carterstoyshop.co.uk

Established around 20 years ago, Carter’s Toy Shop brings its own childhood nostalgia to Perthshire by way of traditional and wooden toys. The small shop in Perth is an Aladdin’s cave, stacked floor to ceiling with marbles, hoola hoops, card games, doll’s houses, rocking horses and other magical playthings for children and adults alike.

In a world where technology dictates Santa’s shopping list, old fashioned toys may seem obsolete but in fact they have become so popular Carters have opened a new shop at 2 King Street, Stirling.

The Stirling Arcade
King Street, Stirling FK1AX
Tel: +44 (0) 1787 450 719 Web: www.stirlingarcade.com

Stretching from Murray place to King Street at the foot of Stirling Castle, the arcade combines contemporary shops with the pleasures of shopping in a bygone era. The arcade, built between 1881 and 1882 is one of only a few of its kind in Scotland. Throughout its history this spectacularly domed shopping centre has been the Crawford Arcade, The Alhambra Arcade and the Stirling Arcade.

Recently the arcade benefited from renovations, by attracting a mix of independent businesses.

Handmade jewellery, comics, specialist lingerie and motorcycle accessories are just a few of the items that make shopping under one roof an alternative and rewarding experience. No matter how traditional or contemporary service is always delivered in the old fashioned way – with a smile.

Mill Trail Visitor Centre
Glentana Mill, West Stirling Street, Alva, Clackmannanshire FK12 5EW
Tel: +44 (0)1259 769 696 Web: www.instirling.com

Situated at the foot of the magnificent Ochil Hills, the Glentana mill was once at the centre of Clackmannanshire’s woollen, tartan and tweed making. So extensive did manufacturing in the county become that when a new mill was built at Keillersbrae near Tillicoultry, a dance was held in one of the mill flats amidst tartan draped walls. The ‘Tartan Ball’ was a great success with the largest turnout ever known in the area.

The clatter of the looms ceased several decades ago, but Glentana offers a free audio visual presentation portraying the glory days of the working mills. The centre has a coffee shop, the Ochil Craft Association and is part of a sign posted trail linking a variety of mill and factory shops.

Gordon and Durward
14 West High Street Crieff PH7 4AP
Web: www.scottishsweets.co.uk

If you’re hungry for childhood nostalgia, then Perthshire is the place to be. The counters of Gordon and Durward’s sweet shop in Crieff are laden with fondant memories, sweet buttery fudge and a prize crop of lucky tatties, just a few of the handmade favourites made on the premises since 1925.

Original recipes are still used today with only extra flavours added. Just as impressively, copper boilers are employed for fudge making, ensuring the fudge keeps its unique flavour and melt in the mouth texture.

One of the shops favourites is the sugar mouse. Sadly the pink and white sweets are now sold without their string tails. Contrary to the nursery rhyme, it was Health and Safety who stripped them of their tails and not the farmer’s wife. Customers remember spending their pocket money on mice with tails. Graham Donaldson, proprietor since 1989 says he never tires of hearing customers’ anecdotes, some regulars even worked in their school holidays, putting eyes on the blind mice. For some, this is a habit of a lifetime.

The Laddie Shop
Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of Islay, Argyll PA49 7UN
Tel: +44 (0)1496 850 190 Web: www.laddieshop.com

Gin can no longer be regarded as ‘mother’s ruin’ but a growing contributor to Scotland’s economy. If the distinctive perfume of Juniper berries in London Gin puts you off your cocktails, you will definitely find the individual flavours of Scottish premium gins more palatable. Every brand has its own individual flavour and aroma.

Gin gained its ‘mother’s ruin’ reputation in the 18th century, being a drink favoured by the poor. It was not until socialites and ex-pats invented the G&T that the spirit gained respectability. Bombay Sapphire launched in 1987 was the first to diversify from the traditional recipe, igniting a new interest. Hendricks, from Grants distillery followed with its lighter less juniper based spirit.

The Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay has produced ‘The Botanist’ infused with locally sourced ingredients and it’s disappearing off the shelves of its ‘Laddie Shop’ as fast as its worldrenown single malts.

Ardross Farm
Elie, Leven, Fife KY9 IEU
Tel: +44(0) 1333 331400 Web: www.ardrossfarm.co.uk

The moment you step through the door, your senses draw you towards the colourful display of home grown vegetables, chunky, earthy and fresh out of the ground. Freezers crammed full of choice beef cuts from the farm’s own herd, wild border game, rare breed bacon and shelves packed with homemade jams, divine puddings, handmade chocolates and honey. You just want to eat them all.

The Pollock family started selling their produce from a table outside their farm by the ruins of Ardross castle, before opening the shop. Recently they have added the farm’s own honey to their list of products.

Beekeeper Mike Taddei tends the hives, monitoring the diet of the bees. In spring/summer the honey is pale in colour as the bees feast on pollen from the white flowers in the hawthorn hedges and clover. As winter approaches, they move on to dark flowers and thistles, producing a darker, runnier honey.

Nikki Pollock is especially interested in the many customers who buy honey to relieve Hay Fever symptoms. She says ‘Customers swear that taking a spoonful of locally grown honey a day, desensitises the sufferer and lessens the symptoms.’ You don’t have to be a hay fever sufferer to enjoy the honey or sample all of the fresh homegrown produce Scotland has to offer.