Closed for much of the last year, non-essential retailers can now finally open their doors once more. But rather than flocking to a major shopping chain (and potentially facing a long queue to get inside) why not lend your support to one of Scotland’s independent stores instead? Here’s seven of the best.


Dundee: Spex Pistols

4 Johnston's Lane, Dundee

01382 529377

If the name ‘Spex Pistols’ isn’t a reason enough to like this store, hidden down Johnston's Lane in Dundee, then their selection of stylish glasses surely will be. From quirky, colourful frames to more understated designs, there should be something to suit almost anyone’s tastes. But the real attraction of Spex Pistols is their dedication to vintage glasses, with a firm belief in the mission statement that “that good frames should live for as long as possible.” As a result, they offer a repair service on all frames brought into them, with costs ranging from £3 for a minor fix right up to £49 for a major repair job. And it isn’t just glasses on offer: Spex Pistols also have a whole host of other vintage goodies on sale (including homeware, cameras, record players) and even their own Spex Pistols-branded sweatshirts, aprons, badges and tote bags.


Stirling: Europa Music

10 Friars Street, Stirling

01786 448623

Nothing beats the feeling of rifling through a record store before finally landing on the one that you’ve been looking for. And while you might think that process has been lost to the age of digital streaming and YouTube videos, Europe Music in Stirling remains delightfully old-fashioned – barely changing layout since it opened in Friars Street back in 1992. Owner Ewen Duncan has been the custodian of the store ever since, inspiring shoppers with his enduring passion for vinyl records.

“For me, vinyl is a warmer sound, it has been around for 70 years for a reason,” he explains. “They’ve tried to remaster music since to make it sound like it did on vinyl, which to me proves that vinyl is the format it should be in. It is the whole experience of buying an album, seeing the artwork, getting it out of its sleeve and then putting it on and enjoying a full album as an entity rather than individual tracks.

“The spread of people who are buying vinyl now is from kids of 10 right through to people in their 80s. You have a certain generation of people who are re-buying stuff that they bought initially and then sold because they thought that vinyl was going out of fashion. They are rediscovering their youth, or they want it back- because they regret selling it.”

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Glasgow: Gallus Alice

1017 Argyle Street, Finnieston, Glasgow

0141 221 6815

Visitors often flock to Finnieston, in Glasgow’s west end, to try out the latest trendy café or pop-up bar. But the area is also home to one of the city’s best independent stores, Gallus Alice, a fashion and lifestyle boutique that is a total joy to browse in. Probably best known for its eclectic collection of brightly printed womenswear, the clothes on sale in Gallus Alice won’t appeal to those looking to blend into the crowd… though they are undeniably cheerful. Yet it isn’t just apparel on offer, with a wide range of homeware, jewellery, sunglasses, greeting cards, gifts and quirky trinkets, to name but a few. And in a highly pandemic-appropriate move, Gallus Alice now also stocks a collection of face masks (with the kind of bright prints you would expect from the store) to inject some personality into what can be a bit of a bleak accessory. Plus, if you can’t make it into the store in person, there’s also a dedicated website for Gallus Alice and its sister site Pink Poodle Boutique.


Inverness: Leakey's Bookshop

Church Street, Inverness

01463 239947

Yes, your e-reader can store thousands of books at once on a lightweight device. But can it replicate the feeling of curling up in front of a fire and leafing through the pages of a book that you are actually holding in your hands? Leakey’s Bookshop, in Inverness, certainly epitomises the warmth and homeliness you would hope for from a traditional bookstore. With its windy staircase, ceiling-high bookshelves and setting within the walls of an old church, it wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, with the real log fire proving particularly popular in chilly weather. And it is nothing short of magical to stand on the mezzanine and admire the thousands of books below: classics, poetry, children’s books and maps which range in price from 50p right up to several hundred pounds. They also offer gift vouchers (the perfect present for a bookworm) as well as an online shop where more than 7000 of their most interesting and unusual books are listed for sale.

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Edinburgh: Armstrong and Son, Vintage

Four stores in the city (Grassmarket, Teviot Place, Clerk Street and Cockburn Street)

0131 226 4634

While online shopping has made it easier than ever to buy clothes in an instant, there has also been a backlash against ‘fast fashion’ among those who want one-off, high-quality clothing. Vintage shops are well-placed to make the most of this, offering pieces that you almost certainly won’t find anywhere else. And no one is more of an expert in vintage retailing than W. Armstrong & Son, established in Edinburgh in 1840 and now recognised as one of the UK’s oldest vintage clothing stores. They now boast four locations across the city: a flagship store on 81-83 Grassmarket and boutique branches on Teviot Place, Clerk Street and most recently, Cockburn Street (opened in October 2020). Their eclectic range of clothes are carefully selected by their experienced team members, with items that span every decade from the swinging 60s to grungy 90s. If you aren’t able to visit in person -or find vintage shopping a little overwhelming- they also have an Armstrong’s website that allows you to refine your search by gender, colour, size and (best of all) era.


Aberdeen: Rosemary Planet

281 Holburn Street, Aberdeen

07923 362206

While some retailers are responsible for generating a huge amount of plastic waste and pollution, others are centring their stores around the principle of being environmentally conscious. That’s certainly the case at Rosemary Planet, on Holburn Street in Aberdeen, which offers a range of refillable products including nuts, oats, grains, pasta, pulses, rice, muesli, granolas, teas, coffees, herbs and spices. All you need to do is bring along your own containers, fill up on whatever you like and pay by weight: minimising plastic waste entirely while also saving yourself some money. They also sell a great range of organic fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs and freshly baked breads. It isn’t just food products that are available in a refillable basis, either, with shampoos, conditioners, bodywash, cleaning products and even dog shampoo, as well as reusable sanitary products. A great way to go shopping and feel good about yourself at the same time.


Perth: Underneath the Arches

44 Princes Street, Perth

01738 245869

There’s been a surge in home makeovers during lockdown, with many of us becoming amateur interior designers after spending so much time at home. But if you want to make sure your décor stands out from the crowd, it would be worth your while to take a trip to Underneath The Arches in Perth. This eclectic vintage homeware shop is full of showstopping furniture, ornaments and decorations, ranging from large cabinets right down to cups and saucers. They also stock a range of in-demand Annie Sloan chalk paint, brushes, wax and stencils. For those uninitiated in the world of chalk paint, it provides the perfect matt finish to use on furniture without the need for priming or sanding, or waiting an age for the paint to dry. A tin of it is all you need to upcycle your furniture, at home, into trendy, shabby-chic pieces.