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MARTEL MAXWELL: Who needs the hell of online furniture shopping when Dundee has stores like this?

Martel need new furniture - and it turns out shopping in Dundee is still a thing. Shutterstock.
Martel need new furniture - and it turns out shopping in Dundee is still a thing. Shutterstock.

My kitchen table benches are in a right old state.

After six years and three kids, the grey coloured faux leather is peeling off, shedding all over clothes, the floor and table. It looks awful.

Horror stories of waiting times for upholsterers or months of delays when ordering new ones have put me off doing anything. And every day the moulting benches get worse.

Then I happened to drive by the South Road, Lochee retail park and spotted a large Sterling Furniture outlet.

I had to do a double take.

The only time you hear the name Tillicoultry (a small town in Clackmannanshire) is on the telly in those adverts for Sterling Furniture, of Tillicoultry.

It’s the shop that put its home town on the map.

I’ve made the almost-hour long journey to the huge furniture outlet twice when we’ve moved house.

And yet here it is. On our doorstep.

A swift U-turn later and I was in, tracing the velvets and suedes of its three piece suites with my fingers like a spellbound Dorothy in Oz.

Dundee shopping takes some beating

Before this sounds like an ad for one shop, other furniture stores are available of course – not least the institute that is Gillies in the Ferry.

But the point I’m making is that my discovery opened my eyes to how blinkered the internet has made me.

The Christmas window display at Gillies of Broughty Ferry will never be replicated online. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Need furniture repaired? Look on Google for upholsters.

Need new furniture? Search online until your eyes boggle at the eye-watering prices of sofas you’re not sure will look good in your house anyway.

How can you be sure when you can’t physically see it or feel it?

It might be too bulky, too bright – and a pain that won’t fit into a Jiffy bag if you want to return it.

We can roll our eyes about the demise of high street shopping – in Dundee and elsewhere – as much as we want. And it’s true there’s much to mourn.

Every time I pass the old Robertson’s furniture store near the Howff graveyard, I lament its loss.

The old Robertson’s furniture store in Dundee. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

This old school bastion of grace, with its glorious art deco lift, operated from 1929 until the demise of the business in 2011.

But there are survivors.

High Street stores still have much to offer

There are staff still pacing the carpeted aisles between wardrobes and office desks hoping we’ll come through their doors and ask if the two seater comes in blue – or whether the kitchen benches will flake.

They are probably not busy enough because we’ve been sold the lie we have to go online.

We don’t.

Or at least, not without an old fashioned trip to the shops that do still exist for a wee nosey first.

There was no hard sell on my visit.

One member of staff even recommended a Dundee upholsterer who might be able to save my seats.

It’s not quite as exciting as wandering round peoples’ actual homes (which plumbers, estate agents and people like me do for a living).

But there’s something enjoyable about wandering round dozens of living room and bedroom set ups – seeing what you could do; how others might choose to live.

At best you’ll see something you fancy and help keep these businesses going – and at the least it’s a bit of a day out.

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