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Business / Forty years and counting for Bayes shop owner

Alister Smith (right) with Neil Anderson. Photo: Living Lerwick

THE OWNER of a Lerwick photography shop is enjoying the congratulations of fellow shopkeepers as he celebrates 40 years in business.

Alister Smith began working at R.W. Bayes photography and framing shop in 1979 and bought the shop, at 143 Commercial Street, on 1 June 1981.

After taking a week’s holiday, he returned to work with a new apprentice, Neil Anderson, joining him.

The two have been a constant and familiar sight behind the shop counter ever since.

It is one of the last shops to retain a traditional counter-only service and remains busy despite recent challenges facing the retail sector.

Alister says there have been many changes over the years both in people and photography techniques and technology.

He is “very pleased” to have reached the 40-year milestone with Neil at his side.

With Covid-19 social distancing measures remaining in place, Alister has not been in the shop much during the past year, though Neil continues to work his way through the framing of pictures of all shapes and sizes – and he claims that on some days there is little space to move behind the counter due to the quantity of frames being made.

Alister was presented with a card by Emma Miller of Living Lerwick on Tuesday showing an image of the shop front recently created by Helen Laurenson of Variorum, signed with best wishes from many of his fellow shopkeepers along Da Street.

Meanwhile, members of Shetland Islands Council’s development committee have given the thumbs up to Living Lerwick’s application to renew its Business Improvement District (BID) status for another five years.

A report from development director Neil Grant said Living Lerwick had been “generally successful in its first and second terms” in efforts to regenerate Lerwick town centre and is now balloting businesses for a new five-year term commencing on 1 September this year and lasting until August 2026.

Councillors heard on Tuesday that Living Lerwick had delivered a number of improvements including promotional materials and providing entertainment and activities in the heart of Lerwick.

It has been “very active” in providing information and guidance to member businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic and is seeking to secure funding to allow it to continue promoting access and increasing footfall in the town centre.