D & J MacEwen’s grocery shop and wine and spirits merchant business was founded by brothers Daniel and James MacEwen in 1794. The Archives holds a customer account book dating from 1799 that has to be one of the earliest records of a grocery shop in Scotland. The volume gives details of orders made to the shop and the names of customers. Entries give an indication of the diversity of the produce sold. The first entry showing the grocery order for John Stewart of Kippen includes tobacco, rope, tea, ink, snuff, soap and sugar.
Their original premises was on Broad Street, at that time the commercial centre of the town. MacEwen’s was Stirling’s main grocery shop for the first quarter of the 19th century and in the 1840s, the family purchased the site at Port Street and constructed a larger shop there to expand the business. This in turn was demolished in the 1890s to make way for the building that stands on the site to this day. The plans featured date from 1901 when the shop front was remodelled.
The firm prospered, importing tea direct from China into Stirling’s harbour in the 1830s and opening branches throughout Stirlingshire, Perthshire and as far north as Inverness, through the later 19th century.
As well as selling groceries, a large part of the company’s business concerned the sale of wine and spirits. The MacEwens sold wines from all over the world and specialised in whisky from all over Scotland. They also produced and bottled their own blend known as ‘Sterlini’. This was a 10 year old blend, produced from several of the most well-known highland distilleries and matured on the premises in sherry wood. The product was sold to various local and national hostelries and shipped abroad to British colonies in India, Africa and Canada. The brothers also ran an important grain, fertiliser and animal feed business, importing guano from Peru as fertiliser that was used in agricultural areas across Scotland.
Photographs held at the Archives show what a beautiful interior the shop had and illustrate how goods were displayed and sold. The company continues to trade to this to this day, although not as a family grocers. It now trades as a property and investment company based in Callander, under the name D & J MacEwen & Co Ltd.