Since I was about 7, my immediate thought upon waking up on a Saturday, or arriving in any new town or city is to go and find the nearest Record Shop. One of the nice side effects of the “Vinyl Revival” is that more Record Shops seem to be opening again, and generally speaking the ones that survived have had a bit of a new lease of life and feel a lot less dusty and desperate than they did 10 years ago. I’ve visited loads of fantastic shops recently and we’re spoilt for choice in the North West – but I’ve also visited some really bizarre and frustrating ones further afield which make me understand why people would rather shop online if that’s all they get to experience. I don’t wanna harm anyone’s business – and I know some people prefer the really grim and grotty side of crate digging, so I won’t name names (apart from Sister Ray) but you might recognise some of these.
1. The shop which is absolutely rammed with stock, so much so that some of it is piled vertically, preventing access to other stuff behind on shelves so it’s impossible to look through without causing a minor avalanche of Vinyl – and certain parts of the shop are completely inaccessible – but the vast majority appears to be total crap anyway, but who knows whats at the bottom of that pile..slowly being crushed.
2. The shop where the racks are packed so tight you have to pull a few out in order to flick through – but the stock is all really really good stuff which must all be being warped and damaged – and then you realise half the stock doesn’t have a price tag on it – and the owner makes up a price on the spot which will either be massively overpriced or underpriced – so when you find something you want you will probably have to barter, whether you like it or not (I don’t).
3. The shop where everything is priced but has a sign up saying that “prices are indicative” due to the fluctuation in vinyl values – and he will check each purchase online before selling it to you and you may be charged more?!
4. The shop full of absolute crap, bulked out with “reissues” which are actually badly made Vinyl Bootlegs of rare albums – typically 90s things like ‘Nevermind’ or ‘Definitely Maybe’, or incredibly rare 60s and 70s on multi-coloured vinyl with badly reproduced sleeves from a jpeg file.
5. The shop that puts a Photocopy of the sleeve in the rack rather than the actual sleeve – (they have a Photocopier on the shop floor for that purpose) and they never offer to show you said item or inspect it before buying. I’ll name that one because they’re big enough to be named and shamed and the staff aren’t exactly a laugh a minute- Sister Ray in London’s increasingly boring Soho.
So having Record Shops back is great – but the bad ones I think are in danger of derailing things somewhat as unless you’re the type that likes to don a pair of knee pads and breathing apparatus to find the gems in amongst the teetering pile of Cliff Richard LPs, these are the things that put people off visiting retail shops and send them scurrying back to Tax Dodgers. Be interested to hear others experiences, good or bad.