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Father and son open Banchory kilt shop after both losing jobs in lockdown

Lee and Gavin Taylor in their Banchory kilt shop. Picture by Kath Flannery.
Lee and Gavin Taylor in their Banchory kilt shop. Picture by Kath Flannery.

Father and son Gavin and Lee Taylor both found themselves out of work when the pandemic hammered the economy last year.

Offshore industry veteran Gavin’s long career came to an abrupt halt while 22-year-old Lee, who was studying in Glasgow, lost his job at a kilt shop in the city.

Rather than mope over their predicament, the Banchory pair decided to turn an idea of theirs into a reality.

Lee has been in pipe bands since he was old enough to practice, and the pair have developed an interest in all things tartan over the years.

Gavin always thought there was a gap in the market for a kilt shop in their hometown, with the closest options either in Aberdeen or deep into Royal Deeside.

The business stopped a unit in the town centre from lying empty. Picture by Kath Flannery

Banchory kilt shop was a dream for family

Gavin, 60, had a number of senior jobs in the oil and gas sector over more than 30 years.

That came to an end when Covid dealt the struggling sector a devastating blow last spring.

The former operations manager said: “I got made redundant when the pandemic kicked off, and was trying to come up with an idea to stop from going bankrupt.

“We have had this idea for years, for a kilt shop in the area, as the only ones nearby are in Aberdeen or Royal Deeside.

“One of the things that pushed it for us was the idea that all these large organisations are coming to schools in Aberdeenshire and taking bookings from kids attending balls.

“This is an area synonymous with that tradition, and it’s right that there is a local business here.

“When we noticed the previous owner of this unit was moving out we thought this was our chance.

“And we had a bit of time in lockdown to get things organised…

The pair have put a lot of effort into making the business a success. Picture by Kath Flannery.

While Gavin is the business brains behind the venture, and still getting to grips with handling customers, Lee is the retail expert used to giving people a smiling welcome.

The tartan-clad traditional musician said: “I was working in a kilt shop in Glasgow while studying down there.

“With piping, I have been interested in kilts and everything tartan since I was little.”

Gavin chimes in, adding: “I have bought him kilts since he was five years old!”

Father and son duo ‘having fun’ at Banchory kilt shop

Lee is grateful to the locals who have offered the new Banchory kilt shop “a great response”.

He said: “It’s a great community, everybody looks out for each other.

“From the little old ladies popping their head in, to younger people needing kilts, it’s nice to have that encouragement.”

Gavin adds: “We aren’t going to be millionaires here, but it’s a way to keep us occupied and we are having a bit of fun.”

The pair show off their wares. Picture by Kath Flannery.

Banchory bouncing back

Deeside Kilts, on the High Street, is one of several new businesses bringing new life to the heart of Banchory following a period of uncertainty.

When Scott Skinner Square was formed in the town centre 25 years ago it was intended to become a hive of commercial activity.

Over the years since then, that hasn’t quite worked out.

Until now that is.

Banchory has blossomed in the aftermath of the pandemic – and the square is now fully occupied for the first time in recent memory.

Traders including an eco-friendly refillery, a cafe and a bike shop have all decided to make it their new home.

The heart of Banchory, like many town centres, fell silent during lockdown. Picture by Kami Thomson

And elsewhere, other new outlets have been popping up on the High Street too.

‘Through the mayhem, these businesses appeared’

Banchory Business Association is now keen to shout about its success.

Chairman Iain McIntosh told us: “It was always dreamed that Scott Skinner Square would be a bit of a hub of the High Street, with various shops and space for events and community activities.

“But over the years there have always been empty units, sometimes many.

“Businesses came and went, as you would expect.

“But we are now at 100% occupancy, which is phenomenal.

“This is the first time in as long as I can remember that the square has been full.

“It’s happening all across the town centre… Through the mayhem these businesses have suddenly appeared.”

The resurgence of Scott Skinner Square shows how Banchory is bouncing back. <br />Picture by Colin Rennie.

Asked to explain the sudden success, Iain highlighted work being done behind the scenes by the business association and the Banchory and District Initiative.

Among many efforts, the groups collaborated to lure more people into town with a reindeer parade at Christmas in 2019.

And with us all looking forward to a more normal festive season this year, it’s a spectacle members are keen to recreate as they think of more ways to boost the town’s bounce-back.

You can find out more about the Banchory kilt shop here.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.