St Andrews is renowned for attracting independent businesses to its streets and, unfortunately, we have seen many come and go. Bell Street, in particular, has seen a considerable amount of changes -to name a few, Our Story, Beetle, and Coho, but the newest addition is the vintage shop, Scaramanga. Whilst the shop window has beautiful displays and unique pieces that are rich in Indian history and culture, will it be cursed with the same luck as so many before it?
Since 2006, Scaramanga has been a growing business of vintage leather satchels and Indian interior furniture and, since its arrival in St Andrews in August 2013, it has been a popular shopping place for the tourists, locals and students.
On entering the shop, I am immediately greeted by the classic smell of leather and wood – because we all know that the appeal of leather-bound books and the smell of rich mahogany is no mystery to anyone. The shop assistant, Holly, even tells me that I am not the only one to immediately fall in love with what I smell before acknowledging what I see; in the brief 6 weeks of being open she has had one person come in just to take in a deep smell of the shop before immediately walking out. But who can blame them?
To those of you who have not been in the shop, but were at the Fresher’s Fayre, Scaramanga were giving out free purses and taking names to enter into a draw to win a medium, over-shoulder satchel. However, with their stall being so popular with hundreds of entries, they decided to choose two winners, having the other take home a beautiful stationary chest. Being a stationary freak myself, I am sad to say that no amount of visits to Ryman’s or Paperchase will numb the pain of missing out on my own free vintage chest to preserve my highlighters with matching sticky notes, staplers and pens.
The purses, satchels and chests are just the start of so many other beautiful pieces the shop has to offer. What is ever-more appealing to this business is that everything in it is not made in a factory, but made by hand.
If you don’t believe me, ‘Meet the Maker’ yourself:
The story of this business starts with owner, Carl Morenikeji, who went to northwest India in 1999 and brought back to the UK a genuinely made leather satchel from a British Columbian site. The people he showed it to were all fascinated by such quality and by its traditional and unique features and this inspired him to branch out into the selling of interior furniture; chests, stools, a range of ornaments, wardrobes, mirrors and pillows.
There is also a story to tell behind some of the pieces, such as the genuine Indian wedding chest that is traditionally given to the bride from the groom on her wedding day to store her jewelry in. There is also a range of boxes and tika pots that are typically seen in Indian kitchens, some of them still smelling of spices.
As I look around the shop I fail to notice, amongst the shelves of satchels and assortment of chests in the middle of the room that support the bowls of accessories and pillows, the more peculiar selection of objects for sale. The smallest to mention are the collection of vintage padlocks and glass bottles, but the largest by far is the ship spotlight. Yes, they are selling ship artefacts in St. Andrews for £390.
With the small satchels with the vegetable tan polish being sold at £75 and the leather satchels with no finished treatment at £70; it may not seem to be the ideal shopping destination for students with a very limited budget, even more so with Fresher’s week just behind us. Nevertheless, there are a range of offers to students, such as the free leather purse or wallet, which are worth £25, but which come free when you spend more than £50 on any leather bag, as well as the ‘Back to University’ feature on their website:
They also sell men’s leather satchels – remember boys, don’t think of Joey’s famous “man-purse” but more of the fact that Indiana Jones has one.
Be rest-assured, one of the best things that Scaramanga has to offer is that, because everything being hand-made and so purposefully unique, whatever you buy, it is guaranteed that no one else in St Andrews will have the same one as you.
St Andrews is known for its unique beauty and history, all of which is echoed in Scaramanga and the pieces it has to offer. The leather purses and satchels are fashionable and the more creative stock items from the turn of the last century coincide with both a modern and traditionally styled home. Though Bell Street establishments typically have a high turnover rate, I think Scaramanga might be the exception.
Image Credit: http://www.scaramangashop.co.uk