Whytes of New Pitsligo sits at the heart

Community Retailer winner shows dedication to the field

Julie-Ann Whyte made a massive change in careers when she opened up her store Whytes of New Pitsligo in 2021.

MAKING the switch from the globe-trotting lifestyle of the oil and gas industry to the local grocer store for your local village shows an utmost dedication to your home.

And that’s just the story of Whytes of New Pitsligo store owner Julie-Ann Whyte who, after leaving her career due to the pandemic keeping her locked down, made the decision to open up a local store, something the area was desperately in need of.

Julie-Ann said: “A lot of people were either furloughed or self-employed – and therefore out of work. I felt I needed to help.

“So I set up a food bank and community shop and delivered essentials to elderly and vulnerable residents.”

A chance phone call in 2021 saw Julie-Ann make the massive change from oil exec to local store owner after her mother rang her to say the building of the previously run local shop – which had been closed for 20 years – was now available after the owner was taken into care.

Within in a few days, Julie-Ann took on ownership of the store as well as the four-bedroom house it is found in which, after 20 years of disuse, was in need of a major facelift.

“When I went in, I thought ‘oh no, what have I done?” Julie-Ann joked.

While definitely an Olympian task to be faced with, Julie-Ann has gone on to prove her dedication to the local area and that she was more than capable of such a change.

The store partnered with Nisa to assist with the task of rewiring, refurbishing and refitting the shop as well as with supplies. The symbol group now provides ambient products for the store as well as assist in making contracts with more local suppliers.

Julie-Ann said: “A chance conversation led me to one of the ladies in the village who makes her own cakes and honey.

“Another contact led me to a local pie maker who lost his job during Covid. His pies and scotch eggs are amazing – we offer everything from a Big Mac Pie to Fajita Pie.

“I’ve had people from Manchester asking me to send them mail order! I have another home baker who makes me 300 tray bakes from Millionaire’s Shortbread to Cookie Dough.

“Obviously, I still needed milk, sugar, sliced bread and other products, so I contacted my Nisa rep. I felt comfortable straight away with the Co-op name in the store.

“People come from far and wide, and we are more than well supported in the village.”

This dedication to her local town, the support she has cultivated and for her bravery in jumping in head-first into a brand new sector all impressed Scottish Grocer judges.

And, as a result, the team saw fit to name Whytes of New Pitsligo and Julie-Ann as the Community Retailer of the Year at the Scottish Grocer Awards 2023, highlighting the passion and dedication she clearly has for the field.

Julie-Ann said: “I have had 30 years of high heels. I though I’d miss the travelling and meeting new people.

“But running my shop is truly fulfilling. I’m still meeting new people, and I’m honestly, and truly, happier.”

Julie-Ann picked up the gong for Community Retailer of the Year at the Scottish Grocer Awards 2023.