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Issue 66 - Nobody does it Better

Scotland Magazine Issue 66
December 2012


This article is 5 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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Nobody does it Better

Edinburgh is bursting with unique independent stores, says Sally Toms

Alright so anyone who visits Edinburgh has heard of famous department store Jenner’s, but Scotland’s capital has so much more to offer shoppers. The city is packed with quirky independent shops, many of them within a caber’s toss of each other. Scotland Magazine sent its roving reporter through the streets, with a Bic and a Barclaycard, to sort the best from the rest. It’s a tough job...

1. Joyce Forsyth
Kooky and distinctive, this knitwear designer creates colourful fashion and styles from her shop in Old Town. From easy to wear box jackets to flamboyantly extravagant flared coats, all of Joyce’s creations are hand knitted from Irish linen, cotton, Shetland lambswool and chenille. The designs might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we think they’re the perfect antidote for a dull day when the grey sky is hanging low over the capital. Vibrant blues and reds knits, canary yellow and turquoise patterned jumpers and hats, perfect for aging hippies or stylish eccentrics.
42 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh, EH1 2QE
Tel: +44 (0)131 220 4112

2. Fabhatrix
This fabulous boutique store makes hats for every kind of hat lover. Owner Fawns Reid began selling her hats for the Fringe festival nearly 20 years ago, today Fabhatrix specialises in quality materials and design that can’t be found on the high street. All the hats are handmade in a workshop beneath the shop, where a team of five work tirelessly on an ever changing collection, from impressive occasion hats to everyday hats made in warm wools, felts, beautiful Scottish tweeds, waxed cotton, velvets and unique vintage fabrics. Hats for men include tricorns, bicorns, top hats, bowler hats, loden hats, homburgs, fedoras, trilbies, pork pies made from luxurious fur felt and wool felt in a multitude of colours. Beautiful and individual.
13 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh, EH1 1JY
Tel: +44 (0)131 225 9222

3. Anteaques
Half café, half old curiosity shop, the aptly named Anteaques (get it?) is like a teashop from another time. There are more fine loose teas for sale here than you will have ever thought existed. Sink into a leather chair with a glass pot of some exotic blend, and peruse the treasures and trinkets while sipping from your hand painted tea cup; antique furniture, silver, glass, ceramics and art, it’s all here and all for sale. If you like your tea served with a thick slice of nostalgia, and one or two original bargains (who doesn’t?), then this is the place for you. Quirky and delicious, we love it.
7 Clerk Street, Edinburgh EH8 9JH
Tel: +44 (0)131 667 8466

4. Mr Wood’s Fossils
Stan Wood is something of an Edinburgh legend. Before he opened Mr Wood's Fossils in 1988, Stan was a professional fossil hunter and made many important discoveries including over 30 entirely new species. Sadly, he died in September 2012, but his legacy lives on in this small shop literally stuffed with prehistoric treasures, such as dinosaur and shark teeth, fossil leaves and wood, geodes and meteorites. There are beautifully preserved fish and ammonites, and 540 million year-old trilobites. If you know what those are, then this place will definitely get you excited, and if you don’t then browsing the shelves is still a wonderful way to while away some time in the capital.
5 Cowgatehead, Grassmarket Edinburgh EH1 1JY
Tel: +44 (0)131 220 1344

5. I J Mellis
The name Iain Mellis has become synonymous with cheese in Scotland. There are now six stores around the country, each one stocked to the rafters with enormous rounds of cheese and smelling distinctly pungent. The friendly and knowledgeable staff champion an old-fashioned style of service, and are always willing to give you a taste. Frankly, with literally hundreds to choose from, you’ll need a guide through this labyrinthine world of artisan cheese. Farmhouse cheese differs from mass-produced factory cheese because the milk comes from a single herd rather than several different sources. The milk is usually unpasteurised which means that the defining flavour-characteristics are left untouched. Plus it just tastes incredible.
30A Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2JW
Tel: +44 (0) 0131 226 6215

6. Walker Slater
Founded in 1983, Walker Slater is synonymous with your Tweed jackets, tweed coats, tweed suits.Basically, tweed. But there’s nothing fuddy duddy about this store, nor is it your rough and ready hillwalking garb. This is exquisitely crafted, made-to-measure designer tweed: where James Bond would go for his wedding suit (if ever we were to marry…) Visit the shop in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket for elegant pieces of the highest quality. Simple, eye catching and Scottish.
20 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2HG
Tel: +44 (0)131 220 2636
46 Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2HG
Tel: +44 (0)131 225 4257

7. Mackenzie Leathergoods
You can’t go wrong with real leather, and Mackenzie have been making fine leather bags, cases, belts and sporrans in Scotland for more than 40 years. Their philosophy is to combine the traditional skills of the saddler with the essential elements of classic British design. The result is briefcases and shoulderbags of timeless quality. There is a bespoke service, of course, and Mackenzie bags come fully guaranteed against defective workmanship and materials so that if, in years to come, your bag ever needs repairing they offer a full repair and refurbishment service. Built to last…
78 Albion Road, Edinburgh, Scotland EH7 6QQ
Tel: +44 (0)1315 576 444

8. Royal Mile Whiskies
Royal Mile Whiskies was established in 1991 and has grown to become, quite simply, one of the world’s greatest specialist whisky merchants. There are more than 1000 whiskies in stock, including single malts from Scotland, Bourbons from the USA, blends, grains, and whiskies from Ireland, Japan, South Africa, Canada, India and everywhere else. The staff are so helpful and informed, even if you don’t like whisky we bet you’ll leave here loaded with bottles and preaching from the book of Uisge Beatha in the street.
379 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PW
Tel: +44 (0)131 225 3383

9. Old Town Bookshop
The sign on the street invites you to ‘Feed your mind and feast your eyes’. Established 1978, The Old Town Bookshop isn’t just a bookshop – this is the grandfather of all bookshops. Walls are stacked floor to ceiling with books on art, architecture, Scottish history, topography as well as prints, maps and second-hand books on all kinds of subjects. The classical literature section is overflowing with Dickens, Shakespeare, Kipling, Scott, R. L. Stevenson, Burns and many more giants of literature, dating from the 1750s to the 20th century. They run a specialty in antiquarian and rare books, some of which date back to the 1650s. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, then it probably doesn’t exist.
8 Victoria Street Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2HG
Tel: +44 (0)131 225 9237

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