Shopping in Stirlingshire, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire offers something for everyone, from well-known high street names to a host of little shops of exceptional quality and value. The area is well served by large shopping centres, where all the best-known multi-national High Street names can be found.
As well as six major supermarkets scattered across the city, Stirling’s Thistles shopping centre includes Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, Boots, Primark, Dorothy Perkins, H&M, Next, River Island, Waterstones, currently the only bookshop in the city apart from Stirling Books, and WH Smith, which also houses a Post Office, and many more. The centre is well provided with cafes and restaurants and Port Street outside is also pedestrianised, which allows leisurely strolling to other nearby outlets.
On the western edge of Stirling stands Dobbies Garden Centre. Set in rural surroundings beside the River Forth and primarily a haven for gardeners, the centre also sells everything from pets and delicatessen food to books and clothing. There’s also plenty of parking at Dobbies and a Lakeland outlet has opened next door.
Falkirk, about 12 miles to the east, has two large indoor shopping centres on the pedestrianised High Street and there’s a major retail park nearby. The Howgate shopping centre tends to have attracted most of the big names including Boots, Debenhams, Argos, Dorothy Perkins, River Island, H Samuel, Evans, Wallis and more. By contrast, the Callendar Square centre includes more specialised outlets selling cards and posters, party and celebration accessories, toys, books and household goods. Both centres also have a choice of cafes and plenty of parking nearby.
Falkirk’s large retail park offers a similar range of outlets. Apart from cinemas, eating places and furniture stores, this is where to find Boots, Tesco, Sports Direct, Next and other high street names. Clackmannanshire’s mainstream shopping is mostly concentrated in bustling Alloa, where there are several large supermarkets. However, the town has managed to retain an atmosphere of small independent shops ranging from butchers, bakers and newsagents to pharmacies, hardware stores and clothing accessory outlets. There’s also a regular open-air market.
Shopping in Stirlingshire, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire offers something for everyone, from well-known high street names to a host of little shops of exceptional quality and value
Interesting small shops
At nearby Tillicoultry and nestling under the spectacular setting of the Ochil Hills, lies the Sterling Mills Outlet Shopping Village. Everyone loves a bargain, and here’s the place to find High Street brands at great prices all year round. Located right across the road from the huge Sterling furniture centre, this village has its own spacious car parking area, children’s play area, cafes and a wide choice of High Street names. These range from Marks and Spencer, GAP, Adidas and Austin Reed to Thornton’s chocolate, the Card Factory, Holland and Barrett health food products, a Nike factory store and much more.
Of course, half the fun of shopping is discovering those little, hidden-away shops which sell things impossible to find in any supermarket or chain store. Happily, the Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire areas have plenty of secret gems just waiting to be found – if you know where to look. In Stirling itself, begin the hunt at ‘Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe’? This dentist’s nightmare is located right outside the Thistles shopping centre and with its jars of boilings and sticks of rock, transports you back to a different age.
Nearby Friars Street is full of interesting small shops. Europa Music offers an impressive choice of thousands of old vinyl records, hard-to-find CDs and period memorabilia. At the top of King Street, Stuarts has a stunning range of beautiful, often locally-made jewellery. From here it’s just a step across the street to what could justly be called ‘Stirling’s greatest secret’ – the city’s Victorian arcade. Often overlooked by locals and visitors alike, this reminder of a bygone age houses among its cafes and beauty salons a fascinating collection of little niche shops.
Finally, head up to Broad Street where you’ll find Sage, a glorious celebration of period odds and ends, described by one visitor as ‘a magical little shop’. Next door you’ll also find Stirling Bagpipes where, with wonderful craft skills they make, sell, repair and refurbish different kinds of bagpipes, and also have an interesting collection of historical pipes and memorabilia. A look in the window will draw you in to this fascinating place.
The city’s Victorian arcade is often overlooked by locals and visitors alike, this reminder of a bygone age houses among its cafes and beauty salons a fascinating collection of little niche shops
Falkirk’s town centre offers plenty to browse, including designer clothes shop Kicks for Kids in Princess Street, Vogue Ladies Clothes in the High Street and the award-winning Kiltpin highland outfitters in Callendar Riggs. There’s also the town’s indoor market, held in what used to be the ice rink, or the many little shops on Grahams Road. Alloa’s town centre has lost many of its artisan shops but Gordon R McFarlane jewellers and art gallery in Mill Street survives as a little haven of excellence. Elsewhere in Alloa, Floral Gems in the High Street has a good name for contemporary flower arrangements.
To the west of Stirling lie several historic and picturesque towns and villages. Bridge of Allan offers the discerning visitor a good choice of small shops ranging from boutique-style shoe, fashion and interior design outlets such as Ruby Tuesday, Treehouse, Ruban Rouge, Love Lala, or Country Pursuits, to distinctively different gift shops such as Collections, Elemental or Heart of Glass.
The Fotheringham Gallery, which stocks a great range of locally-produced and contemporary Scottish art and jewellery, and Woodwinters, which is a superb shop for whiskies and wines, are both highly recommended. Just a few miles north, Dunblane’s High Street offers an interesting choice of distinctive little shops such as Ian McNab Gallery and Studio, the Old Curiosity Shop full of wonderful memorabilia, or Unique Gifts, which stocks a great selection of handbags, scarves and jewellery.
But for something truly special, drop in to Graham Stewart’s silversmith workshop. One of Scotland’s greatest modern silversmiths, Graham and his small team of skilled craftsmen have made pieces for the royal family, the Scottish parliament, the British government, the Ayr Gold Cup horse-racing trophy, the Commonwealth Games and other prestigious clients. A visit to his unobtrusive little retail shop is simply jaw-dropping.
To the west of Stirling lie several historic and picturesque towns and villages. Bridge of Allan offers the discerning visitor a good choice of small shops ranging from boutique-style shoe, fashion and interior design outlets
Four miles further on lies the historic village of Doune where, clustered around the market cross, are several wee gems such as Woodlane, which sells beautifully crafted and distinctively different wooden toys. Callander’s main street also offers, among the woollen mills outlets, several unique little shops, including the fascinating Nutcracker Christmas Shop.
For a memorable experience try Lady Kentmore’s Antiques where, in a tiny room, you’ll be surrounded by perhaps the most fascinating collection of memorabilia in central Scotland. No visit to this area would be complete without reference to Steven Burgess’s wonderful furniture workshop at Arnprior. Located unobtrusively on the A811 road from Stirling to Loch Lomond, this outlet offers some of the finest bespoke furniture in Scotland. Even if you’re not in the market for furniture, a stop-off is highly recommended to view some of the most exquisite furniture you’re ever likely to see.
Across Clackmannanshire the old mill villages also harbour a few surprises. Try Dollar’s Deli in affluent Dollar or the Inspirations art materials shop in Tillicoultry. In Alva, the Higglety Pigglety shop does what it says – it’s full of all kinds of gifts, while the Bottle Shop is also well worth a visit for its eclectic stock of drinks – where else could you find Edinburgh Raspberry Gin alongside Sheep Dip Amoroso Oloroso Whisky.
Finally, heading back towards Stirling you’ll pass signs to the Coffee Bothy at Blairlogie. The food is great, but the Bothy shop also stocks a wonderful selection of unique furniture, house decorations, things to hang on walls and kitchenware, along with delicious local farm produce. So off you go. Whether searching for high street bargains or Scotland’s finest craft produce, enjoy yourself!
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