IF lockdown taught us anything, it was to appreciate our local businesses. When very little else was open it was our local high streets that kept us stocked up with essentials and, crucially, gave us something to do during our allocated hour outside of the house. But now that there are more options of places to spend your money, try not to neglect your local independent stores – which, after all, offer items that you might not find anywhere else. Here’s some of the best independent shops from across the country.

Europa Music, Stirling

10 Friars Street, Stirling

Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday, 12pm-5pm

01786 448623

More of an institution than a shop, Europa Music has been going for over 38 years, 25 of them in its current location on Friars Street in Stirling. Owner Ewen Duncan champions the warmer sound that vinyl produces, and he regularly brings in so many new records that Europa Music has been officially designated the largest browsable vinyl shop in Scotland. A bit higgledy-piggledy inside, you could easily lose an hour searching through all the records on sale – with a proper feeling of satisfaction when you find one that you were looking for. Europa Music often sees queues out of the door on the national Record Store Day – which is on October 24 this year – but why not give them your custom during the rest of the year, too, and help keep this truly unique store alive?

BeerCraft, Kelso

2 Horsemarket, Kelso, Scottish Borders

Open Wednesday-Thursday, 11am-4pm and Friday and Saturday, 10.30am-5pm

01573 348100

If you are bored of the usual supermarket beer choices, a visit to this Kelso store is a must. It might be small but BeerCraft more than makes up for its limited floor space by stocking over 250 varieties of craft beer – meaning that you can drink a whole lot of beer before you get bored. As well as beer there are over 60 different craft gins and a fair few whiskies as well, with the BeerCraft Facebook page offering updates of all new stock as it is brought in. As the only independent craft beer and gin merchant in Kelso, the store also helps promote local producers by being one of the largest stockists of the local Tempest Brewing Company and the Kelso Gin Company.

Leakey's Bookshop, Inverness

Church Street, Inverness

Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5.30pm

01463 239947

With its windy staircase, ceiling-high bookshelves and setting within the walls of an old church, Leakey’s Bookshop could be taken straight from Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. TripAdvisor users are clearly impressed -rating the store as the best in all of Inverness- with its real log fire proving particularly popular with customers in the winter months. It is quite enchanting 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 have taken Covid precautions seriously by introducing a one way-system, hand sanitiser and a bell entry system to ensure that there isn’t too many customers in at the same time. But fear not, it doesn’t take away any of the magic.

The Glasgow Vintage Company, Kelvinbridge

453 Great Western Road, Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

Open every day, 11am-6pm

0141 338 6633

This is a popular haunt among the trendy students of Glasgow University- but don’t let that put you off. The Glasgow Vintage Company has something for everyone, be it womenswear, menswear, accessories, footwear…even some miniature vintage pieces for stylish kids. It is mercifully easy to navigate and is laid out in a manner that emulates the high-end boutiques of the west end. Womenswear is upstairs and menswear downstairs, with a particularly good multibuy offer on their range of vintage men’s shirts. But if you are struggling to figure out how to piece together a vintage outfit, head to the store’s Instagram page, where you will find plenty of inspiration alongside a pick of the best new items.


The Cheese Byre, Perth

52 Atholl Street, Perth

Open Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-2pm

01738 270347

Vegans aside, who doesn’t love cheese? This little gem of a shop offers an abundance of it – be it cow’s cheese, goat’s or even ewe’s. Their ‘Minger’ soft cheese, from Tain, is particularly popular, with the Hebridean Blue a favourite among those who prefer their cheese to pack a punch. The Cheese Byre also offers a delightfully extensive range of preserves and oatcakes, crackers and biscuits, almost all of which come from Scotland. But if you simply can’t choose from all the choice on offer then fear not: you can simply pick up one of their Cheese, Fruit and Nut boxes, which contain everything you need for a good night in. If you want something a bit smaller, try the weekly Cheese Deal, containing a cheese, a preserve and a packet of oatcakes that the experts at the Cheese Byre think will work well together.

Homer, Edinburgh

8 Howe Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Open Monday-Saturday, 10am - 5.30pm and Sunday, 12pm - 4.30pm

0131 225 3168

Named in honour of the homeware inside – not Homer Simpson – this store couldn’t be further from the likes of Ikea and Next. Every inch of its Stockbridge showroom has been carefully thought out, with founder and curator Jayne Ramage sourcing products from far and wide to sell there. The store is set within a beautiful Georgian townhouse and each of the five rooms within it are set up around a different theme. The ‘Library’ offers books, gifts and personal treats; the ‘Kitchen’ has utensils, ceramics and tableware; the ‘Bedroom’ boasts luxury towels and bedding; the ‘Shed’ has gardening giftware and Danish candles; the ‘Living Room’ is the piece de resistance with their very own range of Scot-Scandi furniture, in exclusive Homer Scottish tweed.


The Spotty Bag Shop, Aberdeenshire

13 Old Market Place, Banff, Aberdeenshire

Open every day, 9am-5pm

01261 815623

In this Aberdeenshire institution, you might be quicker to ask what the Spotty Bag Shop doesn’t sell rather than what it does. With more than 60,000 different lines on offer, their motto is “If you can't find it here, you can't find it anywhere.” Some of (many) the items on sale include foodstuffs, drinks, clothing, toys, luggage, footwear, beauty products, gifts, DIY equipment, arts and crafts, books, electrical appliances, fancy dress costumes and party supplies. If all that wasn’t enough, the Spotty Bag Shop also has a highly-rated restaurant and coffee shop in-house.


J A Braithwaite, Dundee

6 Castle Street, Dundee

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm

01382 322693

The oldest shop in Dundee, J A Braithwaite has clearly been doing something right. It is now under its fourth generation of family ownership and has been selling coffee, tea and drinking paraphernalia since way back in 1868. The smell when you walk in is nothing short of blissful, with beans roasted on-site following a family recipe and a choice of over a hundred teas and 30 coffees to take home with you.

Kartel St Andrews

9 Church St, St Andrews, Fife

Open every day, 10am- 5pm

01334 479333

Why buy an ordinary watch when you can buy one that’s designed by you? Kartel allows you to build your own bespoke watch by choosing your own face design, colour, watch style and straps, for a very reasonable price. They even finish it with a personalised engraved message – at no extra cost – making a Kartel watch an ideal Christmas or birthday present with a difference. If all that wasn’t enough, you will be offered a dram of whisky during your design experience as well as the chance to have some cuddles with the store’s very own dog, Bettie the West Highland Terrier.


The Granite House, Fort William

76 High Street, Fort William

Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5.30pm and Sunday, 11am-4pm

01397 703651

The exceptionally good customer service is one of the key draws to this fort william store. the warm and helpful staff will help you find whatever you are looking for, be it stationery, soap, baby clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, homeware, bags or toys. pottermaniacs will enjoy the wide range of harry potter accessories, games and books on offer, with over 12 pages of hogwarts memorabilia available to buy from the granite house website. in a very apt move for the current circumstances, they also now stock a range of harry potter face masks, with triple layer filtration.