“When we started up 15 years ago, it was randomly just plain words, I mean the Jack is to do with my name myself, but the apple means nothing, absolutely nothing, somebody said it and we kind of just stuck with it, so there was nothing meaning wise with it at all.”– Jacqui Store Manager and Founder of ”Applejack” in Edinburgh.
I was delighted when I had the opportunity to meet the Applejack clan. A boutique shop on South Bridge in Edinburgh that stands out from all the other shops.
A must-visit, whether you like the alternative, punk or rock emo scene or not, you still can not help but catch a glimpse of the creativity and unique vibe the shop gives off, from imaginative body jewellery to boots and skirts.
Applejack is a utopia for those who want to accessorise with the latest alternative clothes. It’s a must for those who like neon green leopard print skinny jeans, studded belts and Stargazer make-up. Not to mention the colourful high heels, boots and wide selection of shoes.
We carry several complementary brands such as: Eastpak, Iron Fist, Stargazer, Starfish, Criminal Damage, Abbey Dawn, Aku Mu Ink, Innovision, Wildcat, LowLife, TUK, Rock Daddy, Nightlife, NBX, Killer Panda, Heartless, Cupcake Cult, Newbreed, Lucky 13, Collectif, Nemesis Now, Hell Cat, Manic Panic and many more.
The shop has been running successfully for over 15 years and now boasts a large and loyal customer base. I was lucky enough to meet with the creative minds behind this unique shop to learn more about the alternative retail lifestyle.
How would you describe a typical day in Applejack?
A normal day…? Totally a different day, every day, I’m not here every day so we have different staff in all the time. We all have other commitments so every day is different.
You have such a random mix of collections from Iron Fist to Abbey Dawn to Hell Cat – how many brands in total do you stock?
Oh, I couldn’t tell you, we still have brands from years ago, and I order cool and unusual stuff at trade shows. Two Abbey Dawn and Iron Fists-like orders should arrive next week. If it fits our style and is quirky, we buy it. We love prom and 1950s outfits. We still stock unique items from a few years ago. Suppliers abound.
In terms of finding stock, do you go out and do research or do people approach you?
Both, I have been doing this for about 15 to 16 years now. I started out on Coburn street and was there for 12 years, so I have been around these suppliers for many years, and been to loads of trade shows, but they know you once you are in the business, then people approach you.
In regards to competitors, do you have any main competition?
Competition? We are unique, retail and fashion retailers are failing due to the crisis and lack of money. Electric Cabaret and Star have closed. Independent stores are disappearing. I went to Hoochie Coochie yesterday—nice little boutique.
Student-trendy. Rockers, students, and emo chicks—anyone who wants to be different—we attempt to do something unusual. They’re girlier and mainstream.
No one is my competition. Everyone has enough. Only Who’s Who on Colburn Street and classic Pie in the Sky are on this side of town. Since we’re friends, we suggest, promote, and endorse each other’s shops, so I don’t perceive much competition.
What would you say the one thing that really stands out in your store?
We started selling body jewelry after several customers requested it, adding many ranges. Except for mass-produced jewelry retailers like Claire’s Accessories, we have the best range in Edinburgh. T-shirts too.
Kind of like a little Camden town in Edinburgh?
Yes, kind of like Camden with all their stalls, but we’re a little different. I think everyone was shocked by Camden’s stock range when they walked through it. I suppose this stock is scarce. Primark has captured much of the popular trend. We manage, though.
Do you do any form of body piercings?
Tattoos are downstairs. Piercings were our first service. Tails? Piercing was here when we opened. He died tragically from a heart attack after a year and a half with us. Tails accompanied us to this business. Tom, a Thai guy, took over the tattoos after he died.
Do you think you will start body piercing again?
Probably not because we would have to build a separate unit and the unit Tom has was already part of the building which worked, piercing used to be such a unique thing that now everyone is doing it.
What was it that made you want to start this business up?
I never went to college or university, worked at the Bank of Scotland, and didn’t like it. I worked at Colburn Street for 12 years, learning a lot. Like most jobs, management changed.
I earned some money and rented the bottom of Flip, a vintage shop up the road. My dad said, “Here is money, go do it,” and I thought, “You know what?” Let’s try—short. life’s We persevered. I fell into it. But I enjoy it.
You have really built your business up over the years, was it hard?
Well we had to because the other store Flip when bankrupt so we had to, it took about 8 months to get this shop we are in currently, to get the keys and make it all secure. So that was all a bit dramatic but once we moved in, it took a few years to get back on our feet. We’ve got there now.
Do you ever have any evening openings or event nights?
We are really well known throughout the Fringe Festival, so we stay open a bit later during that month.
Any words of advice for people wanting to embark into the independent retail world?
Do it. Never consider it. Market research is essential now. Retail is hard, so be careful. If you have an excellent concept, try. If you fail, get a job in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Do you think you might branch out?
Our second shop was a nightmare. Years have passed. Maybe. I’m happy, although it would require additional work. A nice little shop with a great reputation. Despite the stress and personnel, I have a great staff. Happy with the location and modest shop.
Stop by Applejacks on South Bridge. A daring shop with new stock, displays, and promos. You’ll also leave with new friends because the staff is so kind.
I went for an interview and left with a super awesome Iron Fists top and a nice bundle of goodies! I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and am now considering getting an epic tattoo!
Be sure to visit Applejack! I guarantee you will not leave empty-handed!
- Address: 37 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LL, United Kingdom
- Phone: +44 7801 501450