At Random with Martin Laing – 12.11.20

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Beating the odds

I remain in awe of the business community in Oban and its surrounding area, never more so than this year.

I feared widespread devastation to the local economy as a result of the pandemic but, while there have obviously been victims, the notable thing for me has been the business sector’s astonishing resilience.

A number of jobs have been lost but the town’s retail sector remains relatively buoyant despite the unprecedented pressures. Among the bullish retailers are Button Nose Boutique, which has moved to bigger premises in Airds Crescent, the new Retrophenia shop that has opened in George Street, Roxy’s cafe, which has opened an outdoor area, also in Airds Crescent, and the list goes on.

In last week’s Oban Times, BID4Oban chief executive Andy Spence articulated the positivity infusing the business community. ‘We have to reinvent ourselves,’ he said, ‘and make sure Oban is at the top of the list as a go-to destination.’

With that kind of upbeat attitude, there is every chance the business community will thrive in 2021, whatever challenges the year throws at us.

Cheers, John

I mentioned last week that Davie Buchanan and I had retired on the same day – Friday October 30 – and we met at the Whisky Vaults, formerly the Woodside, to raise a glass to each other in the safe surroundings of the beer garden.

Mine host John McLachlan, ever the generous and genial landlord, got wind of the occasion and, without bidding, brought us a couple of superb drams. It turned out he had gifted us each a glass of Glenfarclas 25-year-old which retails at £21 a nip – considerably in excess of the cost of my usual imbibing.

John and his lovely partner Helen have now closed for the season to take a well-earned holiday after toiling cheerily without a break for months.

It’s a more than deserved hiatus. Enjoy your time off, both of you, and thanks again for your generosity.

What do you think? Send your comments to editor@obantimes.co.uk