The north-east town once known as Scotland’s drug capital is now doing its best to get a new image – as a haven for trendy independent traders.
While many town centres have been struggling to survive the pandemic, the heart of Fraserburgh has gone from strength to strength – with a dozen new businesses opening up.
Rarely thought of as one of the region’s shopping hotspots, nor as a destination for boutique outlets, those behind the Broch’s revival are keen to show off its new range of cafes, clothes stores and cake shops.
They credit the upswing in the town’s fortunes to community spirit, with people pulling together to support local firms at a time when Covid caused the collapse of major national chains.
And now the Broch Businesses Together group want to keep the “momentum” going by staging various drives to entice people into the town this summer.
‘There’s no other shop like this in the Broch’
Fuvvy’s Closet could well be the glammest shop in Fraserburgh, selling trendy gear to young people who would otherwise need to hop on a bus to the Granite City to do get new clothes.
In fact, fashion forward youngsters are now flocking to Fuvvy’s from places like Elgin, Aberdeen and Portlethen.
Owner Steffi Cowe opened in November and enjoyed only eight weeks of trading before having shut down for five months under tight lockdown rules.
But she has been able to bounce right back since reopening weeks ago.
Steffi said: “I find that if people can shop local, they will. It’s been better than I expected.
“This is the type of shop that, when you enter, your eyes are everywhere.
“We wanted to be a bit ‘out there’ and there’s no other shop like this in the Broch.
“The feedback from the community has been amazing, and spurs us on. The town really comes together to support local businesses.”
Here you can have a look at our interactive map pinpointing the new shops:
Got a new shop opening in Fraserburgh? Let us know and we can add it to the map!
Chairman of Fraserburgh Community Council, James Adams, remembers some grim times in the centre in recent years.
The 28-year-old said: “It has really come on leaps and bounds, and it’s quite remarkable for a small town like ours to have so many new shops open.
“Covid made people realise what they have here.
“Now we want to grab hold of that momentum and run with it. We are hoping to change mindsets on what Fraserburgh is like.”
James added: “It feels like, in some cases, lockdown has allowed people who maybe had a side hustle to turn it into a way to make a living.
“And if that means they are moving into unoccupied premises in the town, then that’s even better.”
Member of the local Rotary club, Robert Watt, remembers when the heart of the town was a bustling place – with folk like his mum venturing to local shops for their daily messages.
The 66-year-old former headteacher at St Combs School said: “In the 1960s it was really vibrant, and in the 1970s and ’80s it would be heaving on a Saturday.
“We realise it will never go back to being like that, what with out-of-town supermarkets and everything.
“But it feels like we have bottomed out and now we are on the way up.”
Initiatives to draw people into town
Robert is now taking a keen interest in a project aimed at brightening up some unloved corners of the centre by painting eye-catching designs on boarded up windows.
And Ainsley Dyga, who runs the R&S Dyga newsagents, is part of a team plotting more drives to bring people into town this summer.
She has helped arrange the local involvement in Fiver Fest, an initiative taking place across Aberdeenshire where local traders run some special offers during June.
Watch Ainsley, Robert and James tell us all about the town centre’s impressive turnaround:
Ainsley is also involved with organising a summer art trail in July, a Doric month in August and the town’s participation in the Light The North model lighthouse trail later this summer.
Ainsley helped form Broch Businesses Together (BBT) two years ago, linking Fraserburgh firms to support one another.
She said: “We want to drive footfall into the town centre, everything we do from staging Christmas events to putting out planters is about that.
“We want to make it a better, busier place.
“Businesses are doing their best, and we want to help bring more people in.”
The 49-year-old added: “We want to protect and preserve the town centre for the next generation really.”