Shopping in Ayrshire and Arran is a real treat, with an array of independent retailers flying the flag for locally-produced goods. With everything from food, drink, arts, crafts and designer clothing on offer, there really is something to suit everyone and every budget.
As well as the independent stores, there are also a number of beautiful boutiques and all the traditional high street favourites. And with plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars throughout the region, there are always opportunities for shoppers to rest and enjoy the picturesque scenery over a coffee and cake or something stronger.Ayrshire is rich in top quality produce and many of its small towns host regular farmers’ markets, where you can try and buy fresh fruit and veg, meats and seafood. And when it comes to buying bigger, you’ll find all of the major high street names in towns such as Ayr, which also makes a convenient base for touring the area – with its sweeping strand, it has been a popular family resort since Victorian times.
Ayrshire is, of course, famed for its whisky heritage. As well as being the birthplace of global brand Johnnie Walker, it’s also home to the A. D. Rattray Whisky Experience and Shop. Devoted to whisky since 1869, A. D. Rattray’s beautifully-restored premises in Kirkoswald offer everything a whisky-lover needs: informative tours, tastings lead by experts, regular specialist events and a well-stocked shop. Customers can even visit the cask room, where they can watch their own bottle being filled. And if that isn’t enough to entice you, each cask strength bottle purchased is personalised on-site – sealed with wax and finished with a handwritten label, it becomes a personalised malt makes for a fantastic gift or a wonderful Ayrshire souvenir for yourself.
Another fabulous whisky stockist is Robbie’s Drams in Ayr. A treasure trove of Scotch, world whiskies and various other spirits, this little gem also has a fine range of rare, limited edition and collectable whiskies sure to tempt any malt lover. What’s more, the helpful staff are passionate and knowledgeable about all things concerning ‘the water of life’, making the shopping experience a breeze, even for the amateur. If you’re looking some something a little bit special, Robbie’s Drams should be your first port of call. Lovers of fine wine are also spoiled in Ayrshire, thanks to the presence of Corney & Barrow’s in Ayr’s Academy Street. Established in 1766 and formerly known as Whighams of Ayr, this is one of the oldest wine merchants in the UK. Its 252-year-old cellars hold an incredible variety of wines from around the world. Don’t worry if you’re not a connoisseur. The shop’s helpful sales assistants are happy to guide customers through the range to find something perfectly suited to their personal taste and budget.
In Maybole, Dalduff Farm Shop is the perfect place to pick up some of the best local meats. From lamb to venison and the best Ayrshire middle bacon, a trip to Dalduff is a must for hungry carnivores who appreciate sustainable sources. They also offer hampers that are ideal for large gatherings, special occasions or just stocking up. A second retail shop is also located in the Dobbies Garden Centre in Ayr. Many Thanks in the town of Mauchline is much more than just a gift shop. As well as stocking an extensive range of locally produced souvenirs and crafts, it also exhibits works from Ayrshire artists, and allows crafty-types to have a go a making their own jewellery, garlands, decoupage and felt items. With homewares, sculptures, candles and Robert Burns-themed items available to purchase, it’s the retail spot to pick up souvenirs.
Ayrshire is, of course, famed for its whisky heritage. As well as being the birthplace of global brand Johnnie Walker, it’s also home to the A. D. Rattray Whisky Experience and Shop
Crafts and independent retailers
A visit to craft paradise West Kilbride is sure to delight shoppers looking for unique items created in Ayrshire. As well as an abundance of independent retailers throughout the town, West Kilbride is also home to Craft Town Scotland, a one-stop-shop for all your souvenir needs. Set within former church The Barony Centre, Craft Town Scotland is comprised of nine active studios, exhibitions, activities, an events space, a cafe and, of course, endless shopping opportunities. Visitors can gain a unique insight into the techniques and craftsmanship of the talented local designers, enjoy some fabulous exhibitions and even take part in creative activities. Goodies such as ceramics and stained glass are available to purchase. Art lovers will adore the quirky work of Steven Brown and his wonderful McCoo collections. His gallery and shop is located in the heart of Ayr and is run by his daughter Linzi and her dedicated team. As well as the colourful and vibrant art work – check out his legendary Highland Coo images – visitors can also buy gifts, souvenirs and beautiful lifestyle products.
One of the most celebrated independent retailers in this town is the aptly named A Gift to Gie. Firm believers in promoting the art of shopping local, A Gift to Gie stocks Ayrshire merchandise, as well as a wide selection on internationally-recognised brands. A trip to The Candybox and Continental in Largs is sure to bring out your inner child. Jam-packed with nostalgic sweets, treats and chocolates, this is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of sugary treasures. From pick-and-mix favourites to melt-in-the-mouth tablet and macaroon bars, this traditional sweetie store will have you salivating as soon as you enter. A firm favourite among lovers of all things vintage and antique is Prestwick establishment Nae-Sae-New. This second-hand emporium stocks books, collectables and a wide range of antique furniture, as well as a selection of candles, soaps and hand-made cards. Stock often comes from house clearances and so changes regularly – much to the delight of visitors and repeat shoppers, who can rummage until their heart’s content.
As Ayrshire’s largest retail centre, the Rivergate Shopping Centre in Irvine is an ideal destination for big brand lovers. Top highstreet retailers – including Boots, JD Sports and Primark – are all there, as well as a select few smaller businesses. With everything from groceries, jewellery to clothing and technology to beauty all under one roof, Rivergate is ideal as a one-stop venue to visit if you need to stock up on the essentials and luxury items during your visit to Ayrshire.
A visit to craft paradise West Kilbride is sure to delight shoppers looking for unique items created in Ayrshire
For shoppers looking for something uniquely Scottish, McCallum Bagpipes may have the answer. At their 10,000 square foot showroom in Kilmarnock, McCallum manufactures and sells a huge selection of chanters, reeds, pipes and drums, making it the world’s favourite Great Highland Bagpipe maker. In addition to the finely crafted instruments, the shops also stocks a stunning range of Highland dress, including jackets, kilts, shirts, sporrans and brogues, available to either buy or hire – which is handy if you’re in Ayrshire for a special event such as a wedding. With a vast tartan collection to peruse, McCallum Highlandwear offers something for every Scottish clan and for every unique taste. They even stock the famous Killie tartan – the official colours of Kilmarnock Football Club. More than just a clothes shop, the Cove Boutique in Kilmarnock is a must-visit for all dedicated followers of fashion.
Owned by lifelong friends Tracy Murray and Shirley McLarty, Cove Boutique has soared in status and is now recognised as one of Ayrshire’s leading independent fashion retailers. Whether it’s work wear, evening wear or something extra special, the garments are all carefully selected, and offer fantastic value, with customers – affectionately known as ‘Covettes’ – coming from as far afield as Dubai, America and Australia. This, coupled with outstanding community spirit and commitment to offering unrivalled customer service, means it’s little wonder Cove Boutique continues to win retail awards year after year. Another hip and happening hot spot for fashion is Beau Beau Boutique in Ayr. Specialising in designer dresses for prom nights, weddings, parties and balls, it has selections by Blush Prom, Terani Couture and Alyce Paris. Although open every day except Mondays, it’s recommended that shoppers make an appointment in advance to ensure they enjoy Beau Beau Boutique’s personalised service.
For shoppers looking for something uniquely Scottish, McCallum Bagpipes may have the answer