Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

86-year-old Scot selling tartan memorabilia in the US won’t let fire damage ruin his business

Eric Gilzean
Eric Gilzean

For nearly three decades, the sprightly 86-year-old has been selling see you Jimmy hats, William Wallace statuettes, kilts and bagpipes from his “weird” Scottish shop in Salt Lake City, the heart of the Utah desert.

The future of his unusual imports store was thrown into doubt when fire tore through the next door property – causing thousands of dollars’ worth of smoke damage to his own precious stock.

But the twice married grandad-of-five – brother to Dundee, Spurs and Scotland legend Alan Gilzean – isn’t going to let his business be ruined by such a trifle.

“I’m going to work till I drop,” said Eric, who is originally from Coupar Angus, Perthshire.

“I’ve got about 15 people working to clean the ceilings and the walls, clean the merchandise, then paint the whole place – there’s no stopping me yet.

“My plan is to work until I’m 95, then get shot by a jealous husband!”

Determined Eric was speaking to the Sunday Post in the aftermath of a devastating early-morning blaze which raged through the adjacent Utah Film Center.

Firefighters flooded the area – only preventing the blaze spreading to his Edinburgh Castle Scottish Imports store by smashing down two doors.

Last week, a team of workers were wading through water-logged soot in a major operation to salvage up to $35,000 (£25,000) of tweed jackets, tartan kilts and sporrans.

“We’ve got the place full of people, and fans going left, right and centre, just to get the smoke out,” said Eric, who is married to fellow Brit Audrey Ann Hicklin, 76.

“But we’ve been going since 1987 –It’ll take more than this fire to smoke me out.”

Eric's shop is in Salt Lake City, Utah
Eric’s shop is in Salt Lake City, Utah

The proud Scot moved Stateside 62 years ago after meeting his first wife Betty Clark, in North Berwick, when she was performing under stage name Betty Jackson with Glasgow band the Jackson Sisters.

They fell in love and moved to her spiritual homeland of Salt Lake City, where two of her sisters lived. Betty died of cancer in 1991.

It wasn’t long before Eric was yearning for home. He’s made about 40 trips in the past six decades, sometimes catching up with family, including football ace Alan, 77.

Dad-of-two Eric said: “The only problem was that, every time I’d go back, people would ask me to bring something – a Harris tweed jacket or a kilt. I was spending all my vacations going round looking for this stuff.

“When a guy said I should set up a shop, I thought ‘Why not?’ Now I get people ordering from all over the world.”

Stocking his shelves with tartan tea towels, tins of Irn Bru and the occasional claymore, business grew steadily as curious locals ventured through his doors.

The release of the film Braveheart in 1995, starring Mel Gibson, sparked even more interest in all things Scottish – and provided another major boost to business, he said.

Now the pensioner spends more time at his timeshare in Hawaii where “the weather’s a bit more predictable,” he joked. But in his heart he will always love Scotland.

Eric said: “My grandfather used to say that there are only two kinds of people in the world – those who were born in Scotland and those less fortunate. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

US investigators said the fire started accidentally in the basement of the Utah Film Center when a fluorescent light overheated.

Eric’s shop is online at


I love my work so much I’m still clocking on after 80 YEARS – fuelled by two bowls of porridge a day

Retired George converts his passion for art into a full-time job