The polling stations have only been open for a few hours, but for newsagents in Scotland, this historic day began before dawn, with the arrival of newspapers drenched in union jacks and saltires.

Former Scottish district president Des Donnelly, who is hoping for a yes vote today, says queues were building at the polling station outside his business long before it opened at 7am.

“It’s a fantastic atmosphere — it’s really caught the community’s imagination,” he says.

Mr Donnelly, who runs Donnelly Newsagents in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, agrees that there has been an “edge” to some of the campaigns — chiming with last night’s report on this site. With the politics suspended and Scotland voting, however, the atmosphere is now positive, he says.

Retired newsagent Mary Butter in Dundee has also witnessed the excitement building in her community, where cars driving past with saltire flags waving from windows has become a regular sight. “There’s a fever in the air,” she says.

Both are planning to vote in favour of independence later today and when asked why argue that this nation would be better off — in terms of everything from pensions to education —  with full control of its own destiny. “I think it would be beneficial to the well-being of the whole country,” says Des Donnelly.

Proving that this is a debate that is not only splitting families and friends, other newsagents are far less confident.

In rural Aberdeenshire, Ian Stewart, of GMC Stores, is “very worried indeed” about the decision Scotland might make.

“Talking to the people coming into my shop, the area is split very much 50/50”, he says.

This morning his main thoughts are about risks of unemployment if industry leaves to go south after a “yes” vote. “Most of what happens here is with the building trade and that’s supported by the oil industry,” Mr Stewart says.

“I can’t see the industry investing in exploring new oil fields post-independence and that’s not good, ultimately, for the retail trade.”

Whether independence is the “enormous mistake” that Mr Stewart believes or essential for Scotland’s “well-being” as Mr Donnelly suggests, newsagents and convenience stores place in their communities is, this morning, giving them a privileged view of history.