Grannie Annie’s gift shop, situated past Leverburgh along the road to Rodel, South Harris, opened in May this year – offering a unique and delightful range of unusual and island-themed gifts, soft furnishings and more.
“I really enjoy having a little shop attached to the house,” said Annie Tempest, a.k.a Grannie Annie. “It feels like all my customers are visitors and it’s just so lovely to hear about what they feel and think about the islands.”
Annie, who previously sold her upcycled furniture and Harris Tweed products through ‘Grannie’s Attic’ at The Hebridean Tea Store in Stornoway, moved from Lewis to Harris in 2014.
And the idea for her gift shop was sparked when it was revealed that the workshop attached to her house was once used as an electrical shop.
“I had started to make some soft furnishings, scarves and other bits and piece from Harris Tweed which I was selling in the local craft markets,” said Annie. “And I’ve always loved and collected vintage and retro objects which were beginning to take over every cabinet and shelf in the house.
“I came up with the idea of displaying them on repurposed furniture and upcycled shelves and cabinets, along with my bits and pieces made from Harris Tweed, and offer them for sale in one space.
“I also have some very clever friends from across the country who make things as diverse as cast silver beach themed jewellery, ceramics, soap and candles, greeting cards and prints,” she continued.
“And I’ve worked with my friends to come up with some unique designs and together we have created some unusual pieces with a local slant. Grannie Annie’s is a really good showcase for their work as well.”
And what a showcase it is. Within the wonderfully colourful and busy little shop sits the delightfully delicate hand-made bone china cups and coasters from Glorious Mud Ceramics.
“My friend Cressida gets her designs from vintage OS maps and between us we’ve come up with designs covering some of our favourite places in Harris – Lustkentyre, Seilebost, Northton, Tarbert, Leverburgh – with more becoming available all the time,” said Annie.
The ‘instantly recognisable style’ of Scottish artist David Andrews also offers something different to customers as he combines drawings with typeface to create quirky and original artwork for greeting cards and mounted prints.
Lewis-based company The Black Sheep Shed showcases its perfumed soaps and candles, inspired by local flowers and plants, as Annie continued: “I’ve got soaps and candles called Rodel Valley Violets, and Wild Rose, as well as Bog Cotton and Clover – and all of those grow freely around the house and shop here in Rodel.
“My friend Esme Wilcock, from Shetland, is an incredible silversmith and casts shells and other beach finds in the sand from the beach where they were found. She also collects sea glass and incorporates these finds into her jewellery designs as well.”
And designing her own scarves, capes, and Harris Tweed creations, Grannie Annie definitely offers something different, as Annie said: “There are some amazing artisans on the island all making things with Harris Tweed so I’ve come up with these more unusual and sometimes unique items to offer people something that isn’t available elsewhere.”
Included are The Harris Maud, a cape based on that of the lowland shepherds of the Scottish Borders; collar scarves created from patchwork piece of Harris Tweed and complemented by a velvet of Liberty Lawn print lining, and cushions and rugs hand-made by weaving strips of Harris Tweed through a crocheted grid.
“It creates a really unusual landscape and pattern with the Tweed strips,” explained Annie. “These are extremely popular as they can be made to suit anyone’s décor and preference. Each one is different.”
But Annie’s most popular products are her ‘Deer Wraiths’: “They are silly little, whimsical creatures made from Harris Tweed pieces and discarded and recycled woollens, buttons and other haberdashery.
“Deer Wraiths is an anagram of Harris Tweed and I made up a story about scraps of Tweeds escaping the weavers sheds and ending up on the moors of Harris where they were gathered together and created into little magical creatures and sprites by the deer herds that roam the hills.
“And each and every Deer Wraith is issued with its very own ‘birth certificate’ showing its unique name to go with its unique look!”
Open throughout the year, six days a week (closed Sundays) from around 8.30am to 7pm, Grannie Annie’s also offers a great ease of payment to customers – with an Honesty Box payment system is available for purchases if Annie is busy or out of the shop walking her dogs.
Alongside the Honesty Box, a PayPal Honesty System is offered which allows customers to take their goods in exchange for leaving their PayPal details.
Annie will then send an invoice and customers can make payment next time they have secure internet connection, even if that means waiting until they get home.
“Here in Harris we’ve only got two cash machines and it’s not easy just to nip to the cashpoint,” Annie said. “People may not have cash so this gives them the opportunity to buy anything they fancy even without cash or a debit card.”
Looking forward to the summer ahead at Grannie Annie’s, Annie said: “Having the shop gives me the opportunity to connect with tourists and visitors, and the local support has been really heart-warming and hugely appreciated.
“I love being able to signpost people to other local businesses and in particular the local weavers who I buy the Tweeds from to make my goods.
“Everyone who visits the shop talks about it being a happy place, it makes them smile. That makes me smile!”