Back in 2015, when we told our friends we were planning to open an antique shop at the bottom end of Leith Walk they told us we were crazy – it would never work! That’s why we decided to call it Folly Antiques.
But it did work – thanks in no small measure to the phenomenal support we’ve received from the local community, many of whom are now not just customers but friends.
We started out in a little rented shop at 221 Leith Walk. The business prospered, and a year later we moved across the road to our current much bigger premises, 208 & 210 Leith Walk, which has its own story to tell.
Our shop was built in 1899. Originally it was two shops – a saddlery called William Thomson, and an Italian ice cream parlour called D’Agostino. In 1906, D’Agostino closed and the shop was taken over by William Thompson who joined the two shops together. Astonishingly, William Thompson’s business survived until 1971, when the premises were bought by Ian and Ann Ireland. They refurbished the shop, giving it a new look, and turning it into Leith Athletics. The shop was run by Ann who later added two more business lines: greetings cards and All Seasons Flowers. Sadly, Ann died in 2012 and in November 2016 Ian Ireland sold us the premises.
Mr Ireland also very generously left behind for us an array of objects that embody the story of the shop right from its earliest days. These include the saddlery signboard, an early twentieth century photograph of the saddler William Thompson standing outside his shop, and the old title deeds and ledger books, as well as some original items of stock and equipment. He also left us the art nouveau door of the ice cream parlour.
When we bought the shop, we decided to restore it as far as possible to the way it was in 1906, complete with its polished wooden floor, matchboard panelling and handsome Victorian cornice. The shop also has two back rooms looking out onto the garden, one with a magnificent kitchen range, still in working order.