News. Highgrove Shop in Ballater

8th of December, 2017

As heartfelt responses to catastrophe go, the Rothesay Rooms/Highgrove Shop project, in response to Storm Frank decimating parts of Ballater in December 2015, takes some beating.The shop started off as an after-thought – a whimsical suggestion put forward by local butcher Barry Florence to the Duke of Rothesay. Florence said that a branch of the popular store found at the Gloucester residence of the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay could be a part of the set-up when the Rothesay Rooms, a restaurant established to rebuild the Ballater community in the wake of the flood, opened for business.

The Highgrove shop, which opened shortly before the restaurant, has now become an integral part of the whole enterprise. “Flora-inspired candles, crab apple jelly, orange blossom soap and coronation meadow crockery are just a few of the exciting items that await our visitors,” explains Nikki Dean, Store Opening Manager.“Burning candles, light background music and tasting samples make a visit to the shop a feast for the senses and, most importantly, we ensure all pocket-sizes are catered for.”

The purpose of the Rothesay Rooms/Highgrove Shop in Ballater is to reflect and bolster local craft and production, and thus help to re-invigorate the community. Does that make curating wares tricky? “The shop primarily stocks Highgrove-branded products,” she says, “with the ordering done directly through head office. It’s a seamless transaction, although the Highland winter can intermittently wreak havoc with deliveries...We stock a few items from Dumfries House, namely porcelain mugs, tea towels and chocolates, which provide our sales staff with the perfect pitch to introduce an inspirational success story.”

It is so important that the Highgrove’s standards of quality, service and culture are observed to the letter, that shop assistants all get to personally visit the head office in Tetbury and enjoy a private tour of the warehouse, as well as the gardens. But it’s the background story of the shop, according to Dean, that takes centre stage in this gargantuan success story.

“[The whole project] serves to re-affirm its patron’s commitment to Ballater by injecting a fresh perspective and re-invigorating the area as a ‘must-see’ tourism destination and one worthy of investment,” she says. “It has helped to give Ballater back its identity and sense of purpose as the pearl in Royal Deeside’s necklace – and that’s why we have such amazing, committed local staff.”

Words: Nikki Dean

Photography: Mhari Law