Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What happens to record shops after they die?

From the BBC:
Stuff offers one possible future for dying record shops

We all know how downloads, supermarket CD offers and online shopping are making life tough for music retailers.

But every independent store is a small business in its own right, with a long-suffering owner, knowledgeable staff and a diehard band of loyal customers.

In times past, a good record shop was also a hangout for an entire generation and a focal point for fans' passions, as well as a place to hear the latest music and a barometer of new trends.

So can any of that be preserved when the shop closes down?

And do the owners keep trading in music by other means or do they find something else to do?

The south London suburb of Croydon used to have more than its fair share of notable record shops. But two of the biggest and best-known second-hand outlets have reached the end of the line recently.

"I liken record shops to antique shops," says Duncan Barnes of 101 Records, which is set to close its doors for the last time in the next few months. "Every town had an antique shop once, maybe two or three. They don't now."

But there is more than one way forward after the big shutdown - and another venture just a few streets away is blazing an unexpected trail. '

Trading roles

Weaving in between the fruit-and-veg stalls of Surrey Street market, a grey-haired figure with a megaphone is braving the winter cold dressed in a T-shirt with a bright pink logo. "Roll up! Roll up! Come to Stuff!" he shouts.

Fired up with enthusiasm, he strides into the Dog and Bull pub, but forgets to put down the megaphone.

"A bottle of Holsten and a pint of ordinary, please," he bellows at the startled barman.
Not all the customers are amused. "I could tell you where to put that thing, if you like," says one curmudgeonly drinker. "Trust me, I'd make it fit."

The man making all the noise is David Lashmar, who spent more than three decades building his shop Beanos into the biggest second-hand record business in Europe, if not the world.

At one time, he had more than two million records in stock and 24 employees.

But Beanos is now a fading memory, having finally closed down last August after a long period on the critical list.

To stay in business, David has made a big transition, abandoning the retail sector and becoming a landlord instead.

In the shop's old premises in Middle Street, his new project, the Stuff indoor market, is facing its opening weekend.

Where racks of LPs, singles and CDs once sprawled, there is now a three-storey labyrinth of multi-coloured booths, stalls and shoplets, operated by tenants who pay a fixed rent.

On sale are flowers, chocolates, jewellery, baby clothes, candles, craft items. Anything, in fact, but records.

"It's bizarre, but I've never been offered more records in all the time I was trading than I am now," says David, adding that he misses "the lure of the chase" in trying to track down vintage vinyl for his old shop.

However, in a further sign of how music retail has declined, he was unable to find anyone prepared to continue the Beanos tradition by setting up a record stall.

Continue reading on the BBC

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