Huge welcome for Skipness shop reopening

Colin, Coco and Sam McKee are the proud new owners of Skipness Shop.
Colin, Coco and Sam McKee are the proud new owners of Skipness Shop.

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A vital community resource will reopen at the heart of a Kintyre village after being closed for more than three years.

Plans had been discussed for the Skipness village store to be taken into community ownership, but news that a young family has bought the shop and its adjoining cottage has been met with hundreds of messages of support.

Sam and Colin McKee have lived in Skipness with their daughter Coco for six years, but had to sell their home there when Covid impacted their business. Now they are investing the proceeds of the sale into the shop and its house.

The new owners hope the village shop, which has been closed for more than three years, will fully reopen next year.
The new owners hope the village shop, which has been closed for more than three years, will fully reopen next year.

‘We were really sad to have to sell Araneigh as we are so fond of the village, and Coco has lived here since she was seven months old and absolutely loves it,’ said Sam.

‘We started looking at remote two-bedroom cottages and then realised there’s a two-bedroom cottage right here – and it has a shop with it.’

Sam spoke to the shop owners, Claonaig Estate, and it said she would need to speak to the community as they had been in discussions with the Tarbert and Skipness Community Trust.

Sam added: ‘We really appreciate that the community trusted us to buy and run the shop.

‘I know that the trust had put in a lot of work, but there is a huge amount of red tape and funding issues involved and it has been a much quicker and simpler process for us to take it on.’

Earlier this month, Sam announced on social media that her family had bought the shop and she was bowled over by the response.

‘By the next morning the Facebook post had reached 9,000 people and had 3,700 engagements,’ she said. ‘The new Skipness Shop page gained 497 followers overnight.’

Sam is no stranger to local retail as she runs the Skippuccino coffee van, often based at Tarbert Marina.

‘I love running the van, but, of course, it was off the road during Covid so it hasn’t been easy.’

The McKee family hope to have a temporary shop open through the summer months while they tackle the substantial renovations needed in the shop and then in the house.

The shop and adjoining home require large-scale renovation but the couple have already received offers of help to tidy the place up.

‘The shop is our priority and we will focus all our efforts on getting it open by next year. In the meantime, our plan would be, if we can, to open a small shop in the bakehouse that also comes with the shop and house.’

In addition to hundreds of messages of support from villagers and from people across the world who know Skipness, Sam has had offers of real, practical support.

She said: ‘I was nearly crying this morning when I woke up to messages offering to help with gardening around the building and with offers of support and shared knowledge from people running similar businesses throughout Kintyre and further afield.’

Sam also acknowledged that there is a desire within the community for a post office service.

‘I hope we could offer some sort of post office provision, but I don’t think a full post office will be possible.’

She added: ‘Selling our Skipness home could have been a really sad story, but the people that bought it have moved here permanently, another potential buyer bought a different property and has moved to the village full-time and now Colin, Coco and I will be running the village shop – it has all worked out to be a really happy story.’