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Retail Therapy, Fashion Frenzy and Souvenir Shopping in Edinburgh



The range of retail options on offer in Edinburgh is wide and eclectic. You’ll find all of the ubiquitous chain stores that you would expect to see in any modern capital, but there are also some independent gems that are well worth seeking out. In this round up we’ll take you on a journey from the main shopping destinations and malls through to some of the more peculiar and lesser known stores.

Princes Street is the main thoroughfare of the city and it offers wonderful views of the castle and beautiful gardens to sit in, perfect for a picnic lunch when the weather permits. You’ll find the main shopping malls (the St. James Shopping Center and the Waverley Shopping Center) close by but for a real treat don't miss Edinburgh's oldest department store Jenner’s.

At the other end of the scale, Edinburgh is home to some of the best independent boutiques in Scotland, perfect if you want to pick up something a little different. For an unusual gift why not visit Mr Wood’s Fossils in the Grassmarket for earrings formed from a pair of ammonites or a dinosaur tooth.

Epicureans will be spoiled for choice with some of the fantastic specialist food and drink retailers in the capital, but those in the know make a bee line for Cranachan & Crowdie on the Royal Mile to find delicious Scottish produce.


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Do you miss having a good browse through record stores or book stores? Well get ready to be delighted because the aptly named Elvis Shakespeare is a veritable treasure trove of music and literature. You'll find a huge selection of rare records and books on offer here. This is the kind of place you can lose an hour searching through the entertainment, which also includes CDs and DVDs. You'll find this unassuming store on Leith Walk but it's worth seeking out for the encyclopedic knowledge of the staff and the nostalgic pleasure of browsing a quality collection in search of that gem that will put a smile on your face.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Elvis Shakespeare will give you a nostalgic thrill as you dig through the piles in search of something special.

Simon's expert tip: If you've got an old song stuck in your head and you just can't find it anywhere this is the place to try. Don't be afraid to ask for help the staff are seriously knowledgeable.

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John Lewis is a superb Edinburgh department store, in fact it is the largest department store in Scotland. You'll find it at the East end of Princes Street within the St. James Center shopping mall. There are several floors serving everything from electronics to bed linen. There is also an excellent toy department and the store is family friendly, with great nappy changing facilities, and a comfortable cafe and restaurant. You'll find helpful staff and a great range of goods on offer here. If you want to find everything under one roof then John Lewis is your best bet for success.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The St. James Center is not pretty, but it's centrally located and packed with useful stores.

Simon's expert tip: Head to the top floor for a great restaurant and stunning views over the city.

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Bliss is a wonderful little gift shop situated in Stockbridge. It has a great range of jewelry, handbags, candles, handmade soaps, handmade cards and quirky home ware, making it the perfect place to pick up a gift that is a little out of the ordinary. However, where it comes into its own is in the gifts for little ones, including beautiful wooden toys and soft toys. There's also a great selection of gorgeous clothes for babies and children, such as super cool Rockstar babygrows and lovely soft nightwear for toddlers. If you are looking for a gift for a newborn or young child Bliss is definitely the place to start.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Bliss is the best place to go to find a gorgeous gift and it stocks some lovely unique toys and shoes for children.

Simon's expert tip: Don't miss the irresistibly cute Starchild shoes for babies.

Read more about Bliss →


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Every Saturday you can enjoy the fantastic fresh produce on offer at the Edinburgh Farmer's Market. The stalls are set up on Castle Terrace and the market runs from 9AM until 2PM. The castle forms a stunning backdrop to the mouth-watering offerings on display. You'll find organic beef, chicken, lamb and pork, not to mention venison and even water buffalo. There are also cheeses, pates, seafood, organic beers and all manner of seasonal vegetables and fruit. There's always a friendly atmosphere and plenty of samples to try before you buy. This is the perfect place to stock up for a picnic or a special meal.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Edinburgh Farmer's Market is full of interesting produce from local farms, a great way to sample the local food.

Simon's expert tip: You can get a great bowl of hot porridge here to set you up for the day or if you're feeling less healthy opt for fresh doughnuts or a hot pork sandwich.

Read more about Edinburgh Farmers' Market →


Spektakulär
Photo courtesy of Spektakulär/JG Scott


Spektakular is a stylish independent boutique with a distinctly Scandinavian charm. This delightful treasure trove is slightly off the beaten track for most tourists, being located in the genteel suburb of Morningside, but is definitely worth venturing out of the city center to find. Inside you will find an eclectic mix of ceramics, fabrics, glassware, and candles certain to brighten up any home or make the perfect gift. All of the items are sourced from Sweden or her neighbors, making this shop refreshingly different. There is a simplicity of design and functional utility to the products stocked which has gained Spektakular an ardent following and ensured that they will be a feature of the Edinburgh shopping scene for years to come.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: For stylish Scandinavian design look no further than Spektakular

Simon's expert tip: The silicone robot money by KG Design are incredibly cute and very popular with little ones

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Hannah Zakari is an independent boutique specializing in quirky and handmade items from indie designers. The name of the shop derives from the Japanese term "hanazakari" meaning blossoming, and its owner Rachael Lamb is dedicated to supporting independent artists. The result is an impressive range of jewelry, handbags, accessories, home ware and art, which is both beautiful and unusual, and has caught the eye of publications such as Vogue, Grazia, The Guardian, Your Cat and Tatler. This treasure trove is located on Candlemakers Row, close to the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, and is a great place to buy a unique gift.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Beautiful gifts by independent designers make Hannah Zakari hard to beat

Simon's expert tip: Look out for the wonderfully named "Designosaur" jewelry which appeals to the big kid in all of us.

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If you want to return home from your Scottish adventure with some authentic clothing then a kilt is the way to go. You'll find a few kilt makers in Edinburgh but Howie R. Nicholsby's 21st Century Kilts is a fantastic independent store that offers bespoke kilts in various trendy styles. The idea here is not to be limited by the traditional tartans and outfits. 21st Century Kilts have been worn by a range of high profile celebrities from Vin Diesel to Lenny Kravitz. If you've never tried one before you'll be surprised by how comfortable they are and the reaction you get from the ladies! They also offer kilts designed for women and children.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Visit 21st Century Kilts if you plan to wow the folks back home with some traditional Scottish dress.

Simon's expert tip: Make sure to book an appointment with Howie in advance of your visit for a custom order to create your perfect kilt.

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Unless you are a keen geologist you might not have considered the potential beauty and interest of fossils. Mr Wood's Fossils has been trading since 1987 and has built an international reputation as a purveyor of fine fossils, minerals and meteorites from all over the globe. This store can be found at the east end of the Grassmarket and you'll enjoy browsing the trilobites and dinosaur fossils on display. This is the perfect place to get a genuinely unique gift that will provide a real talking point. Each fossil carries its own story and you'll find some breathtaking jewelry on offer here as well.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Mr Wood's Fossils is the ideal place to find a really interesting gift or curiosity.

Simon's expert tip: Make sure you ask the knowledgeable staff about the fossils on display for a fascinating lesson in geology.

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Jenners is an old-fashioned department store on Princes Street. It dates back to 1838 although the current building opened in 1895. It is a stunning Edinburgh landmark and is well worth a visit simply to enjoy the architecture and the nostalgic department store feel. The store has been family-owned for most of its history but it was acquired by House of Fraser in 2005. Thankfully it still enjoys a unique identity and you'll find a wide range of clothing and goods within, including a great toy department. It is something of a labyrinth within so you can get lost easily, be prepared to take your time browsing everything this store has to offer.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Jenners is the oldest department store in Edinburgh and it's worth exploring just for the style of the place.

Simon's expert tip: The best time of year to visit Jenners is definitely Christmas time when they erect a huge tree and decorate the store in lavish style.

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Cranachan & Crowdie stock an impressive range of Scottish gifts and produce from all over the country. Whether you are looking for a souvenir for a loved one, or simply a tasty treat for yourself you will be well looked after here. They stock eighteen different types of oatcake along with almost every imaginable type of jam and marmalade. Delicious ice cream, smoked salmon and artisan chocolate sits along side traditional shortbread and mouthwatering whisky tablet. They also have a wide range of beers, wines and spirits. Be warned, it is almost impossible to leave this shop empty handed!

Recommended for Best Shopping because: For the best in Scottish food and drink, head to Cranachan & Crowdie.

Simon's expert tip: For a real treat ask them to make up a bespoke hamper of Scottish goodies.

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Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

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