The shops you’ll remember from the 80s and 90s when the Scottish high street was thriving

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If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s the fact the Scottish high street is no longer the same place it once was.

It may not seem like it to the younger generation who have grown up with online shopping and streaming, but heading to the high street used to provide you with so many more options.

While everyone can appreciate the convenience of the internet era, there was something quite special about heading out shopping with your friends or family in the 80s and 90s.

Today’s kids will never understand the joys of spending hours at the pick ‘n’ mix stand in Woolies and sprawling through department stores, or what it was like to get your movies from an actual film store like Blockbuster.

It’s quite a shame for those of us who have very fond memories of some of those stores from growing up.

It was a simpler time for a lot of us and that’s why it’s hard not to get nostalgic for what once was, compared to how sparse the high street is now.

We have decided to take a look back at some stores that you may remember from this time, this list is not exhaustive, and if you feel like we should add anything else, then please leave us a comment below.

block buster

Blockbuster was the place to be with your family at the weekend
Blockbuster was the place to be with your family at the weekend

Back before streaming dominated our lives, there was nothing better than a trip to Blockbuster with your family to rent your weekend movie.

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You know the vast majority of time would be spent taking forever looking through all the options available or arguing with each other about that weekends viewing of choice.

Sadly, the last Blockbuster store closed its doors for good in 2013, which effectively left most of us distraught.

Safeway

Safeway was the supermarket to be before Lidl and Aldi came along
Safeway was the supermarket to be before Lidl and Aldi came along

While German grocer’s Lidl and Aldi have definitely taken the top spot as two of the fastest growing supermarkets in Scotland, Safeway was our first go-to.

Also, admit it – you had the “Everything you want from a store and a little bit more” jingle stuck in your head for ages.

It is arguably the most nostalgic supermarket that there is and it’s a shame that it just couldn’t stand the test of time, especially after it was bought over by Morrison’s.

The Jolly Giant

The Jolly Giant was a popular toy store in the early 80's
The Jolly Giant was a popular toy store in the early 80’s

Not to be confused with the veg loving Jolly Green Giant, this place was THE place to be for toys in Scotland.

If you grew up in the early 80s, then chances are that a trip to this store with your mum brought a huge smile to your face – you also may remember being a little frightened of the ginormous green animatronic giant outside.

80s kids across the country would have sobbed a little to hear of the stores closing in the early 2000’s.

BHS

BHS was a high street staple
BHS was a high street staple

Back when there was department stores up and down Scotland, BHS was arguably the one that most of us found ourselves in.

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The department store was mainly popular for its seasonal merchandise and cafe, as well as being known as a high street staple that was always there.

That’s why it was disheartening to hear of its collapse in 2016.

Jan and Norman

Jane Norman was a right of passage for teen girls in the mid-90's
Jane Norman was a right of passage for teen girls in the mid-90’s

Long before the days of River Island and Primark, Jane Norman was the place where all teenage girls in the mid-90s got their grown up wardrobe from.

Let’s face it – no school trip was complete without a Jane Norman bag to hold your PE kit in.

The fashion retailer was bought over by the Edinburgh Woolen Mill in 2014 before officially shutting up shop in 2018.

Woolworth’s

There's a not an 80's or 90's kid that doesn't mourn the loss of Woolies
There’s a not an 80’s or 90’s kid that doesn’t mourn the loss of Woolies

Fewer shops are seared into the memories of 80s and 90s kids as much as Woolies.

It was a firm favorite for many Scots growing up who spent many a day at the pick n’ mix aisle getting sick from all the sweets you could get and looking at the cool toy collections.

That’s why it was such a harsh blow when the iconic store closed for good in 2009.

Tammy Girl

Tammy Girl was every young girl dream in the 90's
Tammy Girl was every young girl dream in the 90’s

No 90s girl was complete without an entire wardrobe that was bought from Tammy Girl.

The fashion retailer could usually be found above Etam and it was a treasure trove of glitter, chokers and anything that made pre-teen girls feel extra fly.

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Unfortunately, the retailer closed its doors for the final time in 2005.

Toys R Us

All kids loved a trip to Toys 'R Us
All kids loved a trip to Toys ‘R Us

With it’s large selection of every toy that you could imagine, Toys ‘R Us was one of the best toy stores to head to if you grew up in the 80s and 90s.

Many kids will have fond memories of spending as long as they could looking at all the toys that their eyes could take in.

Sadly, the fun ended in 2018 when they closed their doors for good.

Virgin Mega Stores

Most of us got our first records from Virgin
Most of us got our first records from Virgin

Long before the days off HMV and streaming giants such as Spotify, a lot of kids will remember Virgin Mega stores on the high street.

It was originally started up as an independent record store that was opened by Richard Branson in 1971.

In 2007 all stores across the country were rebranded as Zavvi before collapsing into administration in 2008.

What Every Woman Wants

What Every Woman wanted was a Scottish fashion store your mum loved
What Every Woman wanted was a Scottish fashion store your mum loved

Founded by Vera and Gerald Weisfeld in Glasgow in the 1970s, WEWW was a High Street staple in the 90s.

The high-fashion, low-budget chain was ideal for shopping in the days before Primark and Matalan.

Sadly, in 2002, the firm that owned them went into administration.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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