Swansong for Skye music shop

John and Kate Masson opened the Skye Music Shop 13 years ago following careers as full-time musicians

The Skye Music Shop in Portree is set to close its doors this Saturday after 13 years.

Owners and musicians John and Kate Masson said the decision was made due to a steady decline in the sale of items such as CDs which had begun a few years ago.

The couple who live in Glenhinnisdal were both full-time musicians when they started the business as John explained to the Free Press. He said: “Myself and my wife Kate started the shop originally. We were both full-time musicians, but we decided that we couldn’t be charging off around the country playing five nights a week, because we wanted to settle down and have a family, so we opened the shop.

“For the first few years we were both in here, Kate taught fiddle and I taught guitar, then we realised after a few years that there wasn’t enough in it for two people to take a wage from, so Kate worked from home and looked after the kids. So, over the last five or six years, I have been running the shop.”

John told the Free Press that the changing nature of tourism on the island rather than the rise of online sales was the biggest factor when it came to sales dropping off and ultimately his decision to close the shop.

John has said that a change in tourist shopping habits had impacted his business.

He said: “Skye has changed a lot in the last few years, we’ve been here for 13 years and we knew about three or four years ago that things were starting to slip a bit. Certainly, CD sales were dropping, which were quite a big part of our business – I think we had the biggest selection of trad CDs in the west of Scotland in here.

“I have had a lot of people coming in and asking, ‘oh, has the internet finished you off? ‘It’s not really the internet, though, 90 per cent of our sales were from tourists, I think.

“Tourism has changed in north Skye – we have a different type of tourist. It’s not the ones who used to come for a week or two weeks and come to Portree for a couple of afternoons, mill about and do a bit of shopping – it’s just all changed, you know.

“It just got to the point last year, where we decided that enough was enough.”

John said he will be “sad to see the shop go” adding that it was a “part of the culture in Skye and an asset to the town”.

He said: “There have been a lot of people over the years who we have kept in touch with or become friends with us and we have had some comments on Facebook from people who said they are going to miss the shop.

“From a personal point of view, I saw it coming a few years ago – we made other plans to have a way out of the having the shop and so I’ll get to spend more time with my family and concentrate on teaching as well, which is good.”

Article by Adam Gordon and photographs by Willie Urquhart.