Determined effort to put town centre trend into reverse

Sarah Holmes outside her new Elgin shop ‘Pencil Me In’ on Elgin’s Batchen Street

A DETERMINED EFFORT is being made to reverse the trend of shops closing in the centre of Elgin – with a new business launched by a woman who refused to give up on her daydream!

‘Pencil me In’ is the brainchild of Sarah Holmes who said she was determined to prove that while many people are content to work away in an office wishing they could follow their dreams – she would act on them.

An investment banker until she upped sticks and left Manchester for Moray, Sarah has now launched her new shop dealing in stationery, cards, gifts and a gallery on Batchen Street.

“I’ve dreamed of having my own shop since the age of seven,” Sarah told insideMoray, adding: “Then a few months ago, I decided to pair this with my love of British design and stationery, making beautiful gifts available to customers that they won’t find anywhere else in Elgin or probably Moray.

“For me, the surge in online shopping and supermarket convenience has taken some of the magic out of stationery buying.

“There’s nothing like the pleasure of starting a crisp white page in a notebook or the sharp newness of a fresh pencil, I absolutely love it and I’m making it my mission to share that love, offering a selection of carefully handpicked gifts that you’ll want to keep for yourself.”

In the search for a future for town centre shopping, many have suggested that speciality shops offering goods that are not available in the out-of-town superstores is the way forward – and that is one theory that Pencil me In seeks to prove.

The shop will take pride in stocking the best from British designers, while sourcing some products like the world famous Palomino Blackwing pencil from as far afield as California. It is Sarah’s aim to fill the space with the cream of Scottish design too.

The walls of the new shop are packed with quirky artwork, while the tables and beautiful vintage cabinets are creaking under the weight of lux stationery, gifts, greeting cards and wrapping paper.

Pencil me In is on 27 Batchen Street, just along from the Post Office – the shop also has its own Facebook Page and website at

Editors Comment

OK, there is plenty of moaning goes on about the state of shopping in the centre of Elgin – and justifiable, it is a situation caused by a variety of factors and few of them have been helped by successive local authority administrations.

One of the most enduring comments from people around Moray is that we need more quality and specialist shops to set up business – but that, in the current climate, takes a great deal of courage.

Sarah Holmes has that courage. It will be interesting to see how people react – bottom line, if you would rather buy your stationery online or from out of town where the same old standards are on offer, fine.

But don’t then complain if Pencil Me In fails as a result – you can’t have it both ways, you can’t complain about the demise of our town centres and then not support efforts such as this to solve the problem.

Only by doing so can the ills of our town centres be cured. Anything else will see us all get exactly what we deserve.