Still standing… why independent record shops need your support

Thursday 2nd August 2018 | General

When we opened our doors on Cheap Street, Frome in 1997 the world of music and film was very different to where we find ourselves today.  The last two decades have seen major shifts in the way our customers consume music with digital exploding onto the market yet still allowing room for what has been widely touted as the ‘vinyl revival’.

We have seen other independent record shops come and go as customers turn to online shopping or even their local supermarket to buy music alongside their weekly grocery shop.

In fact there has never been so much choice both in terms of formats and outlets to purchase music and films from.  With so much choice is there still room for the indie record shop?

Well of course we think there is, that’s what drives us forward but here are four reasons you should support your local record shop.

1. Digital music is convenient and cheap but actually owning your music supports both the artist and wider music industry so that everyone can continue to benefit from a breadth of creativity free from financial constraint. Whether you prefer vinyl or CD, bagging your favorite album, taking it home and playing it for the first time has a ritualistic quality to it that digital music can’t replace. Yes there is a place for digital music in terms of exploring different genres and artists you might never come across otherwise but if you’ve never bought an album before give it a go – there’s no buzz like it.

2. As an independent record shop it is difficult to stay competitive with large supermarkets and record chains that often can offer music and films at cut prices thanks to the sheer numbers they are able to purchase and deals made directly with labels thanks to the strength of their purchasing power. However not everyone is driven by price and our customers come to see us not because we can always match the low prices of the big supermarkets (although we always try) but because we offer a service that can’t be replicated by a grocery store. We stock a much wider range of music and films as well as merchandise and memorabilia, we offer a personal service with advice and information that can lead you to discover something new and exciting and let’s face it we are just cool! There is a place for music and films in supermarkets, particularly if it encourages more people to buy and enjoy these art forms and who knows even visit their local record shop to find out more next time. However if you truly love music or films there is no substitute to visiting a record shop that is dedicated to nurturing that passion.

3. Online shopping is convenient both in terms of saving time and sometimes money. We are not anti-online shopping, we sell online ourselves in order to offer customers the same great service all over the world (we have customers as far as the USA and Japan!) However as with any online transaction there are also risks, particularly when it comes to second hand music where the quality of a record can vary widely. Sometimes there is no substitute to seeing, touching and feeling the record before you buy it and that’s where your local record shop comes in.  Not only can you see the condition before you buy you can also play it, asks questions about it and advice on everything from keeping your records clean and safe to other releases by the same artists etc.  Yes you can also do all this yourself online if you ask the right questions and spend some time doing the research but we have that knowledge ready to go so come challenge us.

4. Finally, if you ever spent your youth thumbing through records in town you will know the social benefits of meeting up with other music lovers to discuss your passion, finding information about gigs and live local events and taking time out of a busy schedule just to listen to music and relax. The therapeutic benefits of music have long been extoled and having a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of life is an important service for a lot of our customers and long may we continue to offer this with your continued support and loyalty. As we have seen over the last 20 years our shops mean more to the local community than a place to buy something; they offer a kind ear, a chance to recapture a feeling or memory by rediscovering a forgotten album, meet like minded people and even establish firm friendships, something we are proud to facilitate through our love of music.

So yes competition is tough and we have all heard warnings that the high street is dying yet here we are still, 21 years on and with another shop opened up in Warminster, proving that there is not only a place for the independent record shop there is a real need to not let them die out, the world is a much richer place for them.

If you have never visited us or not been in for a while why not pop in and see what all the fuss is about, we would be delighted to see you.

Richard Churchyard

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