Shopping in Orkney is a pleasant step back in time, to a place where individual, independent shops are run by people who know their islands and produce.
These shops form an outlet for some wonderful local goods and have a great sense of community. In some of the mainland parishes and on the smaller islands, these shops are social centres as much as retail outlets. The shop owners and staff are very friendly and are a source of local information on everything from wild life spotting to tide times.
Kirkwall town centre has the greatest concentration of shops, including specialist butchers, fishmongers and bakers. However, out of the town centre you are likely to come across general stores selling everything from coal to freshly baked bread.
Be prepared to go off the beaten track, as some retailers are located in industrial estates or operate from their own farms and cottages. Many farmers will place free range eggs, veg and milk on a pathside table with an honesty box, so a pocket full of change and a couple of carrier bags will always be useful.
For those who find it difficult to leave the big smoke behind or when you need those essentials just after arriving, Kirkwall does have a Tesco and Cooperative supermarket, but do not expect the crazy 24/7 shopping hours you may be used to. Orkney operates at a slower, more laid back pace of life, which for many, is one of it’s attractions.