With the 2021 City of Culture bid in and various efforts gathering pace bringing a buzz back to the town centre, let’s look back on some of my favourite shops from Paisley’s past. Could we take inspiration from some of them and kick start a retail renaissance?
10 – Jeans For Sale
An early tenant of the Paisley Centre, this was part of a nationwide chain that sold jeans (obviously) and jackets. Joe Bloggs, Benzini, NAF NAF and maybe even Kappa were all the rage. A small selection of mix tapes from raves could be found near the tills.
9 – Temptations
I never set foot in it but this was a women’s clothes shop just past the New Street cut off at the top end of the high street. When I was 13, one of my school friends got a Saturday job here and I thought she was terribly grown up and sophisticated. She was. I wasn’t, and various attempts at romance were rejected. Hope life is treating you well Gillian.
8 – Stereo One
I’d have lived in here in the early 90s if I could have. Completely ignored the downstairs bit and went straight upstairs to the dance/rave/techno section where I’d spend ages browsing the import only 12 inch vinyl like I new what I was doing and then walk out with a KLF CD single.
7 – Pitcher’s Sports
The building is now a dilapidated shell down Moss Street but for generations this was an essential visit. I got swimming trunks, darts, footballs and trainers from here and always enjoyed a good look round. They had printing hear too and could personalise tracksuits with your name on the back. Suffered greatly as some bloke from Ayrshire expanded his own sports retail chain. Sadly missed.
6- Rub A Dub Records
Now located in Glasgow’s Howard Street round from the St Enoch Centre it’s a little known fact that this top notch dance music and equipment retailer started out in Glen Street in Paisley. Its famous Native American logo and deliberate avoidance of all things commercial told you this was a serious music store.
5 – John Menzies
Originally at the top of New Street, this well known retailer made a smart move into the former Woolworth’s store on the High Street in the late 80s, before selling up to WH Smith about 10 years later. The high street store was fantastic was a large music and games department upstairs. A sign of how things change – WH Smith has had the upstairs section closed for at least 15 years and now accommodates the post office too. Menzies saw the decline of retail and were well ahead of the game. Their distribution vans still pull up everyday delivering the goods that WH Smith try to sell. Now that’s smart.
4 – Tandy
You’d find this electrical components retailer in the pre-revamp Piazza. It’s where I bought my first audio mixer as my mobile DJ career began and my Dad bought the parts for the speakers he built me. Microphones, disco lights, soldering irons…you could get it all. The closest thing we have today would be Maplin. Maybe they’d consider opening in Paisley?
3 – Q96 FM
Not a shop of course but the premises they occupied at 26 Lady Lane gave me one of the best experiences of my life. It’s where my career in paid employment began, reading news and sports bulletins at weekends and progressing to full-time employment. Under-resourced, under marketed and probably never fully appreciated until long after they’d sold up and left town as a young boy growing up on the outskirts of Paisley being able to access a 24 hour local radio station was a dream. Struggled to gain local businesses as advertisers through the various recessions but with the Paisley Daily Express long ago shutting their office, surely there’s a place for a local media producer? There’s various interest in a potential community licence and as a vehicle for bringing the whole town together, it may well find a place.
2 – McDougall Brothers Books
Hard to believe that for a while, in the early 90s, Paisley supported 2 full-on book stores. McDougalls on Moss Street which I think is now a food shop aimed at the Polish community, was joined for a while by Hatchards just up the road. The competition was short-lived and I think damaged both. Older generations than mine remember McDougall’s very fondly and even as a 9 year old picking up the latest Roald Dahl it always felt like a good, reliable shop with staff that cared. Greatly missed.
1 – Wimpy
More recently Burger King and then an embarrassing empty space for what seemed like an eternity this is surely a prime retail spot on the high street. Just up from Paisley Cross and smack in the middle as you walk up from the railway station. I had birthday parties in here, met early girlfriends, persuaded my Mum to take us in for tea if were were dragged in on an after school shopping trip…and you always need a place to get a good burger. BK took things up a gear by opening the basement for a while but a slow decline began and for reason’s I’m unable to fathom but that McDonald’s no doubt agree with, operators of multi national fast food premises seem unable to make it work in Paisley in the current climate. What was Wimpy is now the HQ of the Paisley 2021 bid team, I’d like to see it thrive again…maybe as the site of a new community media venture one day?