Independent Shopping guide: Introduction

Independent Shopping guide: Introduction

Butterfly Kisses

In a recession, small businesses are usually hit worst. Shopping Editor Kirstin Innes channels the spirit of the Blitz as she launches our campaign to support local, independent shops

Consider this collection of articles a celebration, and a call to arms. Independent, locally run businesses – the cafes, bars and shops run by locals who know what their neighbourhood wants – are as vital a part of the character of a city as the architecture that shapes it. However, there’s a recession on (we don’t know if you’ve heard …?), and all over Glasgow and Edinburgh, little local shops are shutting down, losing out to the easy lure of the high street and to credit-crunched consumers cutting costs. Many Edinburgh retailers have been doubly hit, with the tram works blocking consumer access and public transport. Despite the City Council’s laudable Open For Business campaign (check them out at, five shops have closed down on Leith Walk alone since the developments began at the end of 2007.

We want to stop this happening, but we need your help. Sure, that high street coat may be a bit cheaper than something hand-made by a young Scottish designer, but you know deep down in your bargain-hunting heart that it’ll fall to pieces after a few wears. And while your choice to buy CDs or books from independent stockists won’t even be noticed at Waterstones and HMV, it could make all the difference to an Avalanche or a Lost In Fiction. We want you to use your imagination as well as your consumer power, and refuse to settle for the same mass-manufactured products as everyone else.

Obviously, what follows is not completely comprehensive: there are a vast amount of local businesses out there, and we can only really scratch the surface. What we’ve tried to do is pick up on areas in Edinburgh and Glasgow where indie businesses shape the community around them in some way.

Accompanying all of this is our brand new online shopping guide, which we hope to build into the definitive listing source for Edinburgh and Glasgow’s indie stores. You can find it at We’re going to be continually updating it: let us know if we’ve missed out your favourite vintage store or local bike shop on

Now go forth, and consume for your community!


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2. Roberta Tweed19 Apr 2009, 7:08pm Report

Although I'd rarely be one to poo-poo an attempt at rallying the troupes to support independent businesses, I think this article has been rather poorly researched. Since the inception of The Recession (dum dum doooom!) market research shows that already customers are changing their shopping habits and that actually, they are turning their backs away from the poor quality garment (for instance) and are instead choosing to save longer and invest more in quality purchases - perhaps a vintage piece or handmade one. Applause is due to The List for acknowledging the role that indie businesses play in shaping communities, but it might have been more useful to print this 6 months ago. Hardly cutting edge journalism from the Shopping section?

3. Roberta Tweed19 Apr 2009, 9:21pm Report

Ha - I ought to have said, 'rallying the troops'! Can't help but imagine a gaggle of cheerleaders now, energetically showing their support to indie businesses! Maybe that's what we need? Aherm...

4. Kirstin Innes23 Apr 2009, 11:55am

Thanks for your comments, Roberta. I'd be interested to see this research, and also to know who funded it and who their sample consumers were. For now, I'll just point you to this two day old (so hopefully cutting edge?) report from the Scotsman:

The research we conducted for this feature involved having actual conversations - not with shoppers, but with over 100 local shopkeepers. The picture we got from them was overwhelmingly negative. I don't know where your market research was conducted, but indie shops in Edinburgh and Glasgow are closing down. Five on Leith Walk since the tram works began. Ten empty plots currently on Byres Road. Almost all of them said that sales were slower than they'd ever been, certainly slower than they were six months ago.

I'm sure a lot of the people featured in our guide, as well as many of our readers with an interest in local business, would be delighted to read any evidence you've found to the contrary. Please do post a link if there is one.

5. Liza Moran15 Jun 2009, 5:30pm Report

Hi Kirstin
Great article which i have just come across. Yes, we all need to support our local traders and appreciate the value that they have in our communities. I have a little boutique called Cassiopeia on Hyndland Road - been running now for 5 years with the support of the Princes trust i got started. We source and promote scottish design talent as well as other beautiful delights for your home and to give people. I notice i haven't made it into your lists :( Feel free to come and check the shop out, we have a great little following and business is ok but we do need all the support we can get. There is also a lot of other little independants on Hyndland Road and gibson street area that might be worth a mention?
All the best - Keep up the good work. Liza

6. sss_opus11 Aug 2009, 3:41pm Report

I love and support independant shops and cafes and am in fact lucky enough to live amidst several in Otago Lane, home of Mixed up records, Voltaire and Rousseau and Tchai Ovna among others. I would like to point out that these are all currently under threat by a massive development planned for Otago Lane that will likely end in their closure. So really, the true death knell to the independant retailer would appear to be money hungry developers and Glasgow City Council. Plus ca change...

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