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  • Writer's pictureYellow Hare

A 60-second guide to Tiree's booming businesses

Updated: 8 hours ago

 This is a very short piece, probably the shortest I’ve ever done. It’s reminiscent of those school essays you knew were inadequate in length but you’d said all you wanted to say and couldn’t think what to add. It's too small to call a blog and too long to be a social media post, which means you take the hit. I'm sorry. Small or not, this is most definitely measuring something, although I’m not yet clear on precisely what that something is. But I'm willing to bet it's not just happening on Tiree.


Do you pick up one of these A-Zs when you come to Tiree? At first glance, you’d be forgiven for assuming that this helpful little leaflet is all about promoting consumerism and yes, it does that too, but in fact the first edition of the A-Z of Where to Shop and Eat on Tiree was born of necessity and the thinking behind it had very little to do with promotion of anything. 


You may be surprised to learn how much planning has gone into this rather basic and functional publication.  For example, it was designed with the technophobe in mind, and the person who prefers to leave their phone at home. The image next to each entry provides context for the passer-by.  It’s generally a snap of the business from the road, so that you know what to look out for when driving or cycling or meandering on foot. You’ll see if the shop, cafe or hotel is next to a field, or a barn, or the sea, and so on.  It’s not allowed to be a logo unless the business is so brand-spanking new that they haven’t even got the building built yet but expect to be there by the time of distribution.


Another important criteria for entry is that businesses must be a walk-in; places where anyone may visit without the need to check or book – even if it’s only to book a table.  Entries are deliberately short and concise for simplicity and to encourage active curiosity. Websites are a very poor substitute for the real thing and were omitted until last year.  We only conceded to add websites because opening hours often fluctuate throughout the season and providing a website allows visitors to check for updated times.  The grid map at the back pin-points each business’ location and in doing so offers a rewarding island tour.


As for the ‘green’ bit - it's produced on the thinnest paper available, recyclable, and A4 size to reduce costs and environmental impact. It's free for everyone including businesses because it puts us all on a level playing field.  It also contains no ads to it keep it clean and easy to read. Yellow Hare pays for it because we started it and created it for entirely selfish reasons.  Staff were (and still are) continually asked what was open, when it was open and if we had a phone number.  We seldom had answers. It was never intended to go further than the shop. It now goes to all businesses and some holiday Lets and is updated each Spring.


Hang in there - we're coming to the juicy bit.

Not so very long ago the most Tiree boasted in the way of walk-in businesses was eleven or twelve, excluding four post offices serving only as post offices. Businesses came and went as businesses do, but the over-all number remained steady. From memory, we had Crofters, the Hydro, MacLennans, MacLeods, Browns, The Glebe, The Glassary, Crossapol garage and gift shop, Mona’s, Balemartine PO and Gift Shop, and two hotels.  The Glassary independent restaurant (now Ceabhar) thrived between Audrey & Jack’s living-room styled option of the late 1970s and The Elephant’s End of the Noughties.


When the A-Z was first printed in 2019 there were seventeen walk-in shops and restaurants on Tiree.  Five of those original seventeen are no longer trading.  This year there are twenty-six registered shops and restaurants listed in the leaflet and a further four active but not listed (ie, on a break or mainly online-only).  That’s thirty businesses.  In other words, Tiree has spawned eighteen new shop-front businesses in the past five years.  Eighteen. Think about that for a moment.  And there are more in the pipeline.  You don't think that's so unusual? Well it really is. It's fantastic. Only two years ago 1,000s upon 1,000s of businesses were going to the wall, dropping like flies the world over. Century-old businesses like Debenhams and Jenners and Frazers as well as newer chains that had been going for decades. And here we are, throwing them out like frisbees, all over the island. I could pad all this out with lovely photos of this place and that, and all the wonderful things they are selling, but I won’t list them because the last time I did that the information was relentlessly targetted by advertising and marketing firms rabidly chasing business.  You’ll see for yourself when you get here.  Meanwhile, let’s just say you will not suffer for the want of something to eat.

The end. I did say it was short.

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