When and why did you decide to open LÒN?
Having set up ARAN three years previously I was keen to expand on our ‘shop’ offering. We sold little bits and pieces in the bakery but as always, space seemed to be our biggest issue! We heard the shop LÒN is now in was going to be available and jumped at the chance. It has since grown arms and legs but eventually became a bit of a selfish project in that it sold everything I wanted to be able to buy in the village for myself! There’s lots of bits for cooks and foodies alike, as well as somewhere to sell all of the amazing local fresh produce that we have on our doorstep.
What had you done before? Did any of these skills help?
Running the bakery definitely helped with figuring out how to do the day to day operations. Buying in stock, however, was very new to me! We were so used to making it all ourselves previously! In many ways LÒN is an extension of the bakery business so it didn’t feel like too massive a step to open up.
How did you decide on the name?
ARAN means bread or loaf in Scottish Gaelic so I wanted to reflect this with the shop. LÒN can mean many things including lunch but it also means provisions or a selection of food I have been told so that is what we went for.
How would you describe the interior style of the store?
Style-wise it is ever evolving. I think like most people budget dictates the most, in terms if what we do, and how the shop is laid out but over time we have added to it and I like to think now that we have a fairly relaxed and simple style that perhaps looks a bit lived in, which I sort of like.
Tell us about the range of products you stock…
We have a huge range of store cupboard goods, homeware for your kitchen, and lots of tasty fresh bits and bobs. We also sell cook books. We buy lots of stock from Scottish producers which we love as well as smaller independent makers. Our stock changes regularly as we have such a small amount of space that quite often we change a product instead of replacing it in order to free up more space for new things.
Do you make anything in-house?
We sell our bread from ARAN, as well as pizza dough to make at home, dips and pickles in summer, and lots of sweeties and bakes for Christmas presents. All of our bouquets are hand tied by myself and my mum which is an element I love doing.
You have recently created postal boxes to purchase online, tell us more about these…
The subscriptions boxes came about during lockdown when we were opening minimal days. We wanted to sell something online in order to reach more people but we didn’t have the staffing for a full online shop. Each month we curate a little box of treats and kitchen items to hopefully inspire people into cooking. It is £25 a month and subscribers receive 5-6 different items each month. It’s is now a massive operation and takes us days to put together and ship all the boxes. It definitely requires more work than it did in the beginning but it is great fun to think of different products and how they pair well together each time.
What does a ‘normal’ day look like?
I am currently on maternity leave so definitely don’t have a normal day, but even before having my baby I would spend a lot of time running between ARAN, our production kitchen and LÒN. Madeleine and Andrea took over the bulk of the shop operations a few summers ago and have been amazing at continuing my ethos when everything got a bit busy. Most plans are made through conversations and lists which maybe is not the most organised way to do things but it does mean things develop a bit more organically and it seems to work for us so far! It also means there is lots of flexibility in terms of coming across new suppliers and arranging new stock which I like.
How do you choose your wares and stockists?
The three of us all have similar styles but with our own wee twist so it works well. More often than not we all agree on stock and we take it in turns to place orders. Again as it changes a bit we tend not to continue too many different items which is great. Both Madeleine and Andrea are both brilliant at scouting out and finding new people and getting in touch with them directly which is a lovely way to start a relationship with our stockists.
Which item is your bestseller? Why do you think that is?
I don’t know if we have one particular bestseller, again because the stock changes! We get a lot of angry customers when we are all out of the Torres Truffle crisps which makes me laugh as I can’t stand them. Definitely the Marmite of the crisp world. We also sell loads of fresh veg from Little Trochry Farm in the summer which is lovely, and berries from nearby too. Our glassware is also very popular, especially our french style wine glasses. And Pump Street and Bare Bones Chocolate bars are always a popular choice.
What items are your personal can’t-live-without?
I love Daphnis and Chloe herbs we stock, all the way from Greece. They make such a lovely gift but are also a joy to keep in your cupboard and cook with. I am also really enjoying Blackthorn Sea Salt for the same reason.
What do you enjoy most about running the store?
I love the relaxed nature of it all. It’s not nearly as logistically challenging as the bakery as it is a much smaller team to manage and we don’t have to start all over again each day stock wise like we do with the bakes. This all leaves much more time for creativity which I love. I think I enjoy the shop reshuffle days the most, when we mix up the layout and change our window displays. We have so little space so we have to think on our feet, but it’s good fun and always comes together in the end. We try and do this every few months so it’s always something to look forward to.
What has been your career highlight (so far)?
I think being described as Scotland’s loveliest food shop in a recent review was pretty special! That and being compared to Leila’s Shop which is one of my all time favourites.
What is the neighbourhood like around the store?
We are really lucky that Dunkeld has completely flourished in the past few years! Bar the CO-OP the high street is completely independent which is such a treat and not something we ever take for granted,
What do you wish you’d known before opening the store? Any advice for those thinking about opening their own stores?
It would have been helpful to know about the pandemic when we signed our lease in Jan 2020! I think being open minded and resilient is probably the most important. Everything is a learning curve and if you can roll with the unpredictability and adapt frequently this helps massively. Also trusting my gut on things is really important and has taken a while to learn. If you are selling products you are passionate about it will be far more successful than if you are selling things you aren’t as interested in I have found.
4 High St, Dunkeld, PH8 0AJ