Popular Edinburgh grocer to close doors of Tattie Shaws after 26 years of trading at Elm Row premises
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The owner of popular Edinburgh grocery shop, Tattie Shaws, has announced it will close its doors in the near future after a variety of factors has made trading at his Elm Row premises increasingly difficult.
James Welby, a well-known face to many in the Leith area who first opened his shop in 1997, said the difficult decision was made after restrictions brought on by Brexit made it harder to import fresh produce – an issue then exacerbated by a drop in footfall owing the pandemic and recent tram works.
Mr Welby said: “At the moment there’s less than 50 people coming through the shop and a multitude of reasons that are now forcing me to sell the shop – Brexit being the catalyst and the tram works being the fuel. Before Brexit, produce was picked and on the shelf within five days so you had a shelf life of seven to ten days – but now things are taking so long to get through we’re not getting the same quality that we were three years ago.”
The Leith trader said due to prolonged deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables his daily waste bill can be up to £50 a day adding ‘things look beautiful when they come in but there’s no life in them.’
In addition transportation issues deriving from the UK’s withdrawal of the European Union the Leith grocer said footfall has also decreased in recent years – in part to due to more staff working from home instead of occupying neighbouring offices and the impact both tram projects have had on the area.
Mr Welby said: “In 2001 we had 300 people coming through here daily and on Saturdays we would have a £1500 turnover on this business – I’m lucky if I get £1500 a week now. Because we had Elliot House office block around the corner, two Standard Life buildings and the Royal Bank of Scotland sorting, there was lots of staff. And having the tram works getting done here for so long, especially the last stage, has definitely taken its toll on people coming into the area - they’ve made other shopping habits or a new route to work.
Remembering the shop’s heyday he said: “It was a cracking wee place – people would come in at lunch time and back again to get something for their evening meal. Before Covid we had 150 customers coming through here daily and now it’s less than 50 – it’s pretty grim.”
The business owner said his shop offered customers a variety of choice not often found in supermarkets, stocking ten types of potato, eight varieties of apple and four types of tomato. He said: “In most supermarkets you’re going to get a washed white potato that’s not good for anything, a minimal display of apples - people will miss out on all the different varieties.”
He added: “It’s quite a horrible thought that we are going to succumb to the supermarkets. People are now doing the one stop shop – going to supermarkets to get everything from their toilet rolls to their sausage rolls – it just becomes habit.”
Mr Welby said although there is no confirmed buyer at present he expects to vacate the premises in the coming months. He said it is too early to decide what his next plans will be but would like to do care work with the elderly or as a youth worker.
He said: “I’ve done this all my life since I left school and I’ve met some really wonderful people through Tattie Shaws and quite a lot of them are my friends now. I do all my socialising here, this is where I meet everybody. I can talk to people, I’m pretty good at that. I don’t know where I’ll go next but hopefully I’ll get something in the area.”