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The best places to go shopping in Ayrshire and Arran

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. 

Ayrshire

Woman shopping

Ayrshire and Arran is a shoppers paradise

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.

A.D. Rattray whisky shop

Enjoy whisky? Take a visit to A.D. Rattray’s Whisky Experience

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

Traditional buys

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.

Tartan

Pick up some traditional Scottish tartan whilst in the area

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

Arran

For those whose holiday would simply not be complete without a spot of retail therapy, Arran will not disappoint. Choose from boutique stores filled with designer clothes, bespoke jewellery, hand-painted furniture or browse through the treasures in its arts and crafts shops. There are also splendid examples of original artwork and photography in the island’s galleries. One of its best-known retail outlets is the Arran Aromatics factory shop in Brodick. Here your olfactory senses will be positively overwhelmed by the aroma and your eyes dazzled by the colourful of the range of pampering products on display. As one of the island’s most famous exports, Arran Aromatics originally earned its world-class reputation for producing some of the finest soaps Scotland has to offer. Using island botanicals, essential oils and natural ingredients – and inspired by the tranquility and stunning landscapes of the island – Arran Aromatics’ popularity has continued to grow, and the company now produces a range of products, including candles, room sprays, skincare items and even a men’s personal grooming range.

Woman shopping

Shop till you drop in Arran, be sure to pick up some local produce

At the Old Byre Showroom, meanwhile, you’ll find a fantastic range of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, including knitwear, Harris Tweed bags and sheepskin boots and slippers – the only problem will be how to fit all your purchases on the ferry! Cheese is always hard to resist and even more so when it’s been lovingly created on an island famed for its strong agricultural heritage. That’s why the Isle of Arran Cheese Shop in Brodick is a must-visit for foodies, with an incredible selection of local gourmet cheeses and chutneys available, as well as artisan goods from around Scotland. With delicacies such as whisky-flavoured and claret-flavoured cheeses, tastebuds are sure to be tickled. Bespoke hampers are also available to order, for when one truckle just isn’t enough. What could more irresistible than cheese? Well, chocolate, of course! James of Arran is a master chocolatier, producing hand-made divine treats that have chocoholics rejoicing. Based in Brodick, anyone with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss this one.

For those whose holiday would simply not be complete without a spot of retail therapy, Arran will not disappoint

Specialities and art

With both a distillery and a brewery on the island, Arran is a great place to stock up on the finest malts and the most refreshing craft ales, straight from the source. The shop at the distillery at Lochranza has a varied selection of single malts, blends, limited editions and exclusives for your delectation, while the brewery and shop in Cladach is the perfect place to learn about the unique microbrewing methods, taste the various craft ales on offer… and then purchase a few to take home. With quirky names such as Arran Sleeping Warrior, Arran Brewery Dug and Arran Red Squirrel, the vibrantly-decorated bottles make for excellent take-home gifts.

With such a big adventure scene on the island, the specialist outdoor shop Arran Active is the place to go for all of your outdoor clothing and equipment needs. Situated in Brodick, it stocks a huge range, including footwear, rucksacks, camping gear maps and guidebooks. Open all-year-round, the store is also a great source of knowledge for those interested in the walks and wildlife on the island.

For visitors to the western side of Arran, The Old Byre Showroom in Machrie started out selling sheepskin rugs brought over to the island from the Scottish Borders. The business has since expanded, and now sells a range of high quality Scottish and Irish knitwear and woollen items, homewares and leather goods, as well products from international brands such as Barbour. There is also a secondary shop, located in Brodick.

Independent shop

Treat yourself to something designed by a local artist

In Whiting Bay, the Arran Art Gallery is a fantastic place to pick up works from local artists, with paintings, sculptures, jewellery, decorative glass and prints all available to buy. Open every day, the gallery prides itself on stocking some of the best quality affordable artworks in the country, so whether your budget is big or small, there is an artwork to put your pleasure in the frame.

When it comes to dedicated gift shops offering a great selection of souvenirs, Arran has no shortage. Red Door located in Brodick offers quirky and unique items that suit even the most eclectic of tastes, including bags, scarves and jewellery. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll be delighted to find Red Door also stocks Bowzos’ custom-made Harris Tweed collars, bow ties and bandanas – apparently what all the best dressed dogs on Arran are wearing this season.


Everything you need to know about Ayrshire and Arran

Where to eat in Ayrshire and Arran

The best things to do in Ayrshire and Arran

The best nightlife Ayrshire and Arran

Your guide to arts and culture in Ayrshire and Arran

Image credits: ©A. D. Rattray; Annie Spratt/Andrew Neel/Ellen Auer/Peter Wendt/Unsplash; ING Image

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