Antiques: a feature of the later part of the period, although second-hand furniture was traded in the early period, diversifying into fancy goods at the upper end and ‘junk’ or bric-a-brac at the lower; more of the latter through the 1990s.
Art and frames: two, one from the 1980s and one selling local art from the mid 1990s. Harry Fell’s in the West Port sold mounted prints and framed pictures in the 1960s. At the end of the period an art shop operated near the East Port.
Beauty Salon: at the outset restricted to ladies and gent’s hairdressers but latterly a range of businesses supplying home beauty treatments and a nail, etc parlour has opened on the High Street.
Books: A few of the newsagents carried small stocks of novels and light reading, but were able to satisfy orders for most published works. There was no ‘book shop’ as such until c1970 when Downies changed hands (Forrest’s) and began to stock a wide selection.
Cake decoration: in the 1990s Lynn Easingwood, Mrs Frost and Rhona Bell became specialist cake decorators, once the domain of the town’s bakers.
Catering: several offered out catering, for example, Jimmy Hogg, Ian Wood (in the 1970s and 1980s), Margaret Paterson, Joy Smeed, and others, and the Food Hamper in the 1990s.
Charity shop: both permanent (and temporary (for specific campaigns or a regular seasonal event, eg., Rotary) charity shops made their appearance on the High Street, from c1980. Sue Ryder. Chest, Heart & Stroke.
Chemists: the town has maintained its two pharmacies throughout the period – Aitken’s and Stephenson’s (formerly Grant’s now owned by Lloyd’s) and now both ‘trading as’, supplying health and beauty products and running photographic processing agencies as well; in the 1960s and 1970s Aitken’s sold cameras and souvenir view transparencies.
China/glass: apart from up-market collectables (in a small way), ceramic souvenirs, and down-market picnic and plastic wares, this sector has virtually disappeared. The Gift Shop and Louis Allen’s had until the 1970s the capacity to supply every item of domestic crockery, but their businesses were not replaced.
Dunbar’s clock and watch-maker was A. W. Anderson (113 High Street, now Cromwell Antiques): the business was operated into the 1950s by his son (who had opened a branch in North Berwick) but was given up before 1960. Clocks and watches were sold by fancy goods stores, and jewellers thereafter.
Clothing: at the outset of the period the burgh could supply expert tailoring and a full range of ladies, gents and children’s wear from a variety of outlets including specialist milliners and wool shops. Elizabeth in the West Port sold wool and baby clothes; latterly just baby clothes. A few attempted to trade with specialist goods – eg sports wear 1980s-90s (Afflecks) but these have also closed. Main’s sold sporting goods and equipment.
Confectionery: in the 1960s the town had several specialist confectionery suppliers, including at least three sweet-shops and an ice-cream maker (Greco) and several seasonal outlets; most closed in the 1970s and 1980s but the supermarkets, newsagents and convenience stores all stock confectionary. The ranks of ‘sweetie jars’ in Laura’s of the West Port, a favourite with generations of school children, are only memories.
Crafts: in the 1950s and 1960s several shops sold fabric, wool, haberdashery, etc but these were generally not replaced as proprietors retired in the 1970s and 1980s. What business there was, was taken up by a craft and embroidery shop (the Busy Bee), which, until the 1980s, sold wools too.
Designer: Jacqui Burke set up as a sole trader in 1989 and became a limited company in 1992, building a reputation with distinctive shows at London Fashion Week. She was a graduate of the Scottish Textiles College (1986). A short occupancy of the factory unit at Winterfield opposite Kirk Park ended in disaster when stock and cash were stolen. Despite liquidation, she still produced a 1995 show, by working from her flat. By 1996 she was able to open a shop at the top of the High Street, but fashion is fickle and like other businesses opened in the 1990s (including a specialist furnishings shop), it only traded for a short while. Her design work continues.
DIY: although this sector is nowhere nearly as comprehensive as it was in the 1950s and 1960s there has always been at least one good hardware shop on the High Street, the longest established being Robertson’s, now Turnbull’s, with a shop in North Berwick as well. The other old names Grahame Ironmongers (99 High Street), owned by the Cormacks in the 1960s and 1970s, continued under a number of owners or lessees – Scott’s, the DIY Shop – through the period. McLuckie’s and Jamieson’s Universal Supplies (84 High Street), next to Mason’s, was put to other uses although Chris Jamieson continued as an electrician after giving up the shop c1977/8.
Electrical: nowhere sells a full range of white goods now, changes in shopping having concentrated this market in out-of-town superstores. However, Miss Stark ran a TV supplies shop from premises beside Stark’s Garage (now the post office). Her former employee, Tommy Young, went into business for himself in premises on the other side of the East Port until he retired; the business was continued to c1990 by Tommy MacDougall. Electrical goods were available from the Electricity Board (to the mid 1990s) and Gas Board (to c1970) showrooms where bills could be paid; the Co-op offered electrical goods (to c1970), and one small electrical appliance and repairs shop still survives shop (Dodds, 29 High Street) though it concentrates on mainly one maker of goods – Panasonic.
Flowers: although the specialist greengrocers of the 1950s and 1960s dealt in cut flowers in a small way, this part of the business seems to have grown in the 1970s and a specialist flower (and flower arranging supplies) outlet (Willie Main) has been a feature of the burgh since the 1990s. Florist Blooming Marvellous began c1990s.
Furnishings: a recent specialist never made it last, despite the building boom. Retail blinds, curtains, kitchens, bathrooms have all been eroded by ‘direct suppliers’ cold calling, leafleting and telephone calling from the 1980s and dominating in the 1990s.
Frieda Kelly and Mrs Clarke of Colvin Street made curtains but Fairbairn’s, formerly Low’s, remains the only large supplier.
Jewellers: none left, the last going in the late 1990s, although jewellery is still sold as a sideline by Cromwell Antiques, etc.
Leather: Main’s saddler one of the last traditional leather goods, etc shops in the county. Leather wares could also be obtained at Fell’s, Louis Allen’s and the Gift Shop (to the 1970s), and accessories etc at the Kilt Shop until the early 1960s.
Newsagents; reduced to three over the period, mostly by retirement or, in one case, change of business. All three surviving newsagents bought and sold at least once within the period, all with specialist sidelines – books, cards or toys, now that fancy goods and holiday souvenirs are no longer important.
Photographer: no specialist photographic retailer since G. Day retired c1970. Stefany Hawryluk traded as a professional photographer from the ground floor shop of John Muir’s birthplace from c1981 until 1 April 1999.
Toys: once the domain of the Gift Shop and newsagents like newsagents like Knox and Thompson, although other retailers carried some toys and the Captain’s Cabin maintained a good line in summer toys until it closed in the 1980s. Pettigrew’s cycle shop opened in the West Port in the 1930s but latterly traded from the High Street (number 103, between the Royal Bank and Grahame Ironmongers (DIY), now the Curiosity Shop. The proprietor, Billy Jordan, was succeeded by George Hogg until the early 1970s.
M. & I. Video began in the 1980s
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