Couple behind #TheDress selling share in Colonsay’s only shop

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The couple behind ‘the dress that broke the internet’ are selling a majority share of Colonsay’s only shop, but any potential buyers on the island are going to the front of the queue.

Colonsay General Store in Scalasaig, styled ‘The Best Wee Shop in the Hebrides’, has had five owners since the 1960s – the most recent being Keir and Grace Johnston who took over in 2012.

It’s been an eventful decade for Keir and Grace, whose wedding in the Colonsay Hotel in 2015 sparked ‘the world’s most famous dress’ viral internet sensation, titled #TheDress, that ‘divided the planet’ over whether it was white and gold or blue and black.

Keir, director of Colonsay’s annual music festival Ceòl Cholasa, announced on the Colonsay Community Noticeboard on January 11: ‘April will mark 10 years since I took over the reins of Colonsay Shop. It was never my intention to be its guardian long term, so this anniversary seems a good time to move on to something else.

‘I will therefore now be actively looking to sell my share of the business (60 per cent), with any purchaser forming a partnership with the remaining stakeholders.

‘The other partners are also potentially interested in selling, meaning 100 per cent of the business could be purchased.

‘I thought best to announce this here first in case there is any initial interest locally.’

Keir’s post attracted its own sensational number of tributes. ‘You should be very very proud of yourself, of what you’ve achieved, and of what you’ve done for locals and visitors alike over the years, and especially throughout the pandemic,’ wrote one.

‘You will be a big miss,’ wrote a second. ‘You’ll be a hard act to follow!’ said a third. Many more wished them good luck for the future.

Thanking everyone, Keir replied: ‘I’ve actually been open to selling the shop for the last six years or so and nothing has come of it, so I doubt anything will happen quickly. You may be stuck with me for a while yet!’

Keir and Grace shot to fame a week before their island wedding in February 2015, when Grace’s mother Cecilia was in Chester choosing what to wear, and sent Grace three photophotographs of three different dresses.

‘I said: “So which one is it? Which one do you like the best?” Grace explained to a US audience of 4.4 million on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, to which her mother replied: ‘The third one’.

‘I said: “Oh, the white and gold one?” And she said: “No, the blue and black one.”‘

‘I said: “No mum, that’s white and gold. If you think it’s blue and black you need to go to the doctors.” So we had a bit of a row.’

Keir, a ‘founding member of Team Blue and Black’, asked his dad next door what colour is was. ‘He said: “White and gold.” I thought they were playing a trick on me.’

Caitlin McNeill, the director of the Colonsay Community Development Company who first uploaded the image online, said: ‘We had been arguing about it for weeks. It had been tearing the community apart – we were losing our minds. I posted it on Tumblr.’

The rest is internet history.