Edinburgh - Leith and Broughton Street
Independent Shopping Guide
Colourful, down-to-earth, and as proud of the Shore’s chequered history as it is of the newly developed areas housing bright young things in penthouses, Leith combines gritty charm with the fruits of urban regeneration. Off the top of Leith Walk, closer to the New Town, lies Broughton Street, the bustling centre of Edinburgh’s gay quarter, studded with laid-back cafés and bars and quirky boutiques. Both areas are fertile ground for independent business, even in spite of the woes the recent tram works have brought to Leith Walk, because both owe their vibrancy to a strong sense of community.
Offbeat eco-friendly Shore shop Flux and Easter Road’s excellent Eero and Riley, recently runner up in the UK-wide Best Independent Shop Awards, are great spots for unusual gifts and homeware, as are Broughton Street’s Bliss (stockist of cult beauty brand Paul & Joe Beaute) and Concrete Wardrobe, full of innovative Scottish designers.
The unprepossessing, but thoroughly rewarding Leith Walk shops World of Pine and Crawford’s Furniture Salesroom are also worth a dig through for unexpected bargains; the latter can throw up some interesting second-hand pieces. Broughton Street Bookshop sells an impressive selection of second hand books; Elvis Shakespeare specialises in rare books and rarer punk and dance labels. And if music’s your thing, the legendarily dark Vinyl Villains on Elm Row is always worth a look.
Other one offs? Threadbare Vintage, or Joey D’s Broughton Street studio shop of recycled bespoke fashion design. Laiba boutique has a good selection of ethnic fabrics and fashions. Royal Artizana has fabulously mad textiles and art pieces suitable for hippy princesses.
Broughton Street, as you would expect, isn’t shy on sex shops. Organic Pleasures is a luxurious, eco-erotic boutique for women, while near-by Q Store is a rather more hardcore, licensed sex shop. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
David Griffin runs the much-loved book and record specialist Elvis Shakespeare on Leith Walk
‘I’d never quite understood why shops didn’t go into books and records as a 50/50 thing and I decided many years ago that when I was grey and old I’d like to do it. Then I panicked, and decided to do it before I got grey and old. The basic policy (in a jokey way) is that if Waterstones and HMV don’t stock it, we will. We specialise in literary fiction rather than crime novels or thrillers, and we’re more into vinyl than CDs – old alternative rock, garage rock, and strangely, a big dance music section as well; we’ve got lots and lots of weird and wonderful stuff.
Hopefully, we’re more than just a shop too. We run gigs, poetry readings and record launches – just to give you an example, we had the marvellous Thomas Truax playing recently. Our regulars are extremely loyal, everything from nice middle-class Bruntsfield ladies to students who come in and try us first before they head off to town or online, which I always appreciate. We’ve got enough regulars and enough loyal customers: we just don’t get enough people in the shop. We have really felt the effects of the tramworks here, too. Five shops have closed in the last 18 months in the couple of months on the block I’m on, so everybody is nervous. This will be the first year I’ve made a loss since opening four years ago.’
0131 561 1363, www.elvisshakespeare.com