By Roz Skinner
Something to make you smile, something to give to a friend, something to treat yourself or something to remember your Isle of Skye holiday...
You can find all that and so much more in Tippecanoe, the gift shop and gallery in Wentworth Street, Portree.
Owner Pauline Murray keeps her shop stocked with all manner of souvenirs, gifts, art work, books, greetings cards and ornaments – including a quirky hermit crab called Henry!
Pauline laughs as she describes her crab, saying: "I first got them in stock five or six years ago. When they arrived, an elderly lady wanted to know what on earth they were! But they flew off the shelves! I love to provide a fun range of products that make people smile."
Pauline's first foray into the world of souvenirs started when she was living down in the Borders. She had finished an art and textiles course at college and gone on to teach. "Just for fun, I started making sheep," she reveals. "I wrapped wool round wood to make a brooch and then I sold hundreds of them! I gave up my job and expanded production."
The sheep were so popular that, back then, Pauline and her husband were able to supply them to gift shops worldwide, including one on the Isle of Skye called Tippecanoe! "Our agent at the time said that the shop had come on the market and how about going for it," Pauline relates.
"It was always our dream to be here, so we bought the shop – even though we lived over 200 miles away!"
The challenge of keeping her premises packed with items that appeal to both visitors and locals is something that Pauline relishes. "Tourists love the tiny sheep and cows that we sell," she explains. "They're perfect for putting on their windowsill and reminding them of that time they went on holiday to Skye. However, we are open all year round and I want the shop to be somewhere that locals can come. I go to a lot of trade fairs and keep abreast of what's new. I love coming home and bringing the latest trends to the streets of Portree."
Thanks to her time at college, Pauline has a keen eye for art and is always looking out for new talent. Pictures of moody beaches, brooding skies and mist-shrouded Cuillins grace the walls in the gallery section of her shop.
Tippecanoe has, in Pauline's own words, "gone from strength to strength." In 2015, the shop was a finalist in the UK-wide Retas Greeting Card Awards. Nominated by one of their greetings cards suppliers, Tippecanoe received recognition for the eclectic range of cards kept in stock.
Says Pauline: "Although we didn't win, we attended a gala dinner in London, which was an amazing experience. I want to keep the shop going exactly as it is – providing a place with a warm welcoming atmosphere that supplies quirky gifts and souvenirs at competitive retail prices.
Locals and visitors know they are going to find something exciting here!"