Entrepreneurs come together under one roof

Berwick town centre has been given a boost with the revamp of an old department store.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 9:48 am
Iain McLarty

It is hoped the new centre for antiques and gifts on Marygate will help draw in tourists to the town as well as benefit local shoppers.

An open day is being held this Saturday to allow people to enjoy a glass of wine and view the building which has been transformed through a co-operative effort.

Lease holders Lynn and Kenny MacGregor have been joined by other entrepreneurs who could not afford to take on a shop of their own but have taken space in the renovated premises on a commission basis.

Together they have worked for months to transform the large and formerly dilapidated upstairs area to complement the ground floor rooms already used by the MacGregors for their Four Angels Gift Shop.

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As well as modern gifts and pottery, the centre will sell antiques and includes an upholsterer, George Bryson, and a designer who decorates trainers and shoes.

The idea for the collective came about when the MacGregors were joined by Iain McLarty, from Den Of Antiquities, who was looking for premises in Berwick for his antiques.

“I was in Coldstream but the building was being sold so I had to move,” he explained. “I wanted to come to Berwick but the rents are very expensive here.

“However Lynn and Kenny found out I was looking for a place and when they got in touch with me I was absolutely amazed at the amount of space there was in the building.

“We sat down and had a talk about it and thought it would be a good idea to create some sort of gift and antique centre in Berwick with the idea of bringing in a lot more people into the town.

“So many shops in Berwick have closed and there are not many big ones left. We felt there was a need for a big shop where people would want to spend time, especially on a wet day.”

It was agreed they would renovate the upper floor and invite others to share the space.

Five months of cleaning, painting and decorating followed but Iain says he is delighted with the result.

“It looks brilliant now and we have a great mix of modern gifts, antiques, vintage, and collectibles - everything anyone could want under one roof. We have five new people upstairs. One is bringing in Georgian antiques, another is doing jewellery, and there are all sorts of interesting curios. On the modern side there are the amazing painted trainers as well as modern pottery and painted furniture.

“Everyone said the mix wouldn’t work but it works very well as people are looking for different things. We have had some lovely comments from people already. They are all really positive – people think it is fantastic.

“I think it is good news as the Four Angels Gift Shop and Antiques Centre is an attraction for tourists and local people as well. So many shops have closed so the more shops that can reopen the better it is for Berwick.”

A former pharmacist, Iain in was forced to give up his business because of failing eyesight caused by Type 1 diabetes. With a lifelong interest in antiques he decided to open up the shop in Coldstream but helping to renovate a Berwick building wasn’t part of his original plan.

“It’s been a labour of love,” he admitted. “I moved to this area for a rest and to get my health back - but then again I don’t really want to sit around and wait for my time to come!”