Edmonton

After 60 years, Scottish Imports closes its doors in Edmonton

Local business closes after most recent owner announces retirement.

‘You see a tartan, and usually she can tell you what it is just by looking at it’

Sixty years after ' Scottish Imports' opens its doors in Edmonton, customers bid farewell 1:22

After six decades in business, Scottish Imports is no more.

The Edmonton company, which specialized in Scottish tartans, clothing and gifts, closed its doors at 10121 150 Street, for the final time Wednesday evening.

"Very mixed emotions," said Valeta Roach, the store's owner. "I was excited that it was the last day and kind of sad that the doors are closing."
Valeta Roach is off to retirement after owning Scottish Imports for 18 years. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

Roach ran the store for the past 18 years and said she wanted to retire on a high note, adding she's done everything with the business the way she wanted to.

Previous owner Jim Stout started the store out of his garage in 1958.

Roach remembered going there as a little girl to get highland dancing supplies. Her family has always been involved in dancing, drumming, piping and Scottish games.
Valeta Roach kept a variety of fabrics and ribbons to create everything Scottish. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

"I know it sounds trite, my passion, but I just love tartan. I was a highland dancer, my parents were involved in piping and drumming when I was little, my kids have all been involved in it, my daughter continues to dance. It's just been part of my life forever."

In 1999, Roach bought Scottish Imports, expanding the fabric inventory and introducing rentals in 2002.

Before Roach moved the store near Stony Plain Road in 2014, it was in a number of other locations around the city.

Customers service is key

The customers were the best and most important part of the job, Roach said.

"I want to provide a top-quality product all the time so people know they're getting their money's worth," she said. "I want to do it in a wonderful way so that they're exploring their heritage, their culture and are enthusiastic about what they're purchasing."
Linea Henderson shops at Scottish Imports on its final day. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

It's been busy, with at least 75 customers a day for the past week, she said.

"It's like they're waiting in queue outside the door — one goes out, and one comes in."

Linea Henderson has shopped at Scottish Imports since she was a kid.

"When my brother got married 15 years ago, he ordered all his kilts for his wedding from this store," Henderson said. "And I was a highland dancer, so we would often get our materials and things from here."

Henderson's kids are taking dance too.
On her last day in business, Valeta Roach whips up a sash for a customer. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

"It's part of their heritage, on both sides, so it's something that we want to keep up with."

Customer Rhonda Wolfe's said her Scottish great-grandparents settled in Alberta. The store reminds her of her lineage.

"I love everything that's in here. It's very educational … It's like a piece of gran, coming in here."

Roach's husband and "store floor mopper," Albert Roach, said his wife has done "a phenomenal job" running the store.

"You see a tartan and usually she can tell you what it is just by looking at it," he said. "I'm always amazed when she does that."
Linea Henderson's family shops at Scottish Imports. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

Future plans

Valeta Roach said she will still be manufacturing and altering kilts in her new venture, Forever Tartan, where she'll be sewing and designing fabrics in a home-based business with an online presence.

She has worked closely with a few tartan mills in Scotland and plans to keep those contacts for future orders so her customers still have access to reputable resources, she said.
Owner Valeta Roach shows off the Alberta tartan, one of her many patterns. (Kaylen Small/CBC)

"Probably one of the key things for many people is the shrinking and stretching of kilts, because they sometimes do that all by themselves in the closet and they need to get [them] fixed," she said with a laugh.

Tartans aside, her plans are to spend more time with her family "and then, of course, to be in my sewing room — my happy place."

About the Author

Kaylen Small

Journalist

Reporter and Associate Producer at CBC Edmonton // kaylen.small@cbc.ca // @KaylenSmall