April 20, 2013 by Colin Kelly
It’s Record Store Day! A time to come together and celebrate record stores past and present around the world.
The team at NSDesign are serious music lovers and we all have our own special memories of record stores. One of my colleagues is a former Tower Records worker!
Our Managing Director Gary Ennis was in the crowd that fateful day in 1995 when Bon Jovi were hanging out the window at Tower Records on Argyll Street in Glasgow. If you watch this video very closely you’ll see Gary looking very mean and moody while Jon Bon is doing his thing.
When he’s not out delivering social networking training and consultancy to our clients Gary continues to enjoy a wide range of music although his rock credentials seem to have softened. He’s got tickets for one of this year’s biggest pop gigs at the SECC but he’ll give me a doing if I mention which one.
Then there’s Kenny Roy our Operations Director who regales the office with tales of his record store adventures. The best one concerns a store called ‘Listen’ which used to be at the bottom of Renfield Street. Kenny and his mates used to go in there before heading to the Apollo for a gig. One afternoon Kenny noticed a young Joe Elliot from up and coming band Def Leppard. Joe was around 17/18 at the time just a couple of years older than Kenny and they struck up a conversation. Joe and his band were supporting AC/DC that night and Kenny (being a true rock fan) was one of the few people who’d recognised Joe. Def Leppard had only just signed their first record deal. They must have struck up quite a rapport because a few months later, when Def Leppard returned to Glasgow, this time headlining their own show, Joe remembered Kenny and invited him in to see the soundcheck.
And my own record store memories? My aunt and uncle used to take me to Tower Records on Argyll Street when it stayed open late at night. I love it. I was into dance music at the time and used to browse the 12″ releases. I had a Saturday job in Paisley in the mid 90s and an unrequited interest in the girl that worked in Our Price in the Paisley Centre. I was running mobile discos at the time and as well as buying the latest CDs that I liked, keeping the crowds happy meant frequently buying some that I didn’t. So I think this girl felt I had very dubious taste. And there was Mike Dillon’s Record Factory, now Apollo Music but still at 48 Causeyside Street one of the last independent record shops in Scotland. Today is a big day for Mike and he’s pulling out all the stop to make it a cracker.
Earlier this week I asked Mike for his thoughts on what it takes to make a physical record store viable in this day and age. Here’s what he had to say and an insight into his plans for today:
“How does a physical shop survive in today’s digital age ? Not an easy question to answer, for me it’s a few things, product knowledge, awareness of your customer needs, controllable overheads, being able to adjust to the changing market and a good team. Apollo Music now does 90% of it’s business online but because HMV have closed in this area then we have to react to this by strengthening the product that we stock, making an impression on new customers, give them a service that makes them want to come back and also to tell their friends about our store. My saving grace is that I had the foresight to buy my shop, the mortgage was paid of 3 years ago therefore lowering my overheads, most shops that are still open either own the shop or have manageable rent. Our industry is very competitive with low margins so not much room for error.
This Saturday will be the busiest day of the year by a country mile, but I am determined to make an impression by having live acts playing in the shop. We are also taking over the Bungalow Bar for the afternoon, at 2pm we will have a rock choir playing and at 3pm we will be showing the film Last Shop Standing, a movie about record shops in which I am featured and at 3 & 4pm we will have cover bands entertaining the troops.”
Sounds good and here’s to many more years of independent record stores.
Can they continue to survive in the age of all things ‘digital’ and what are your own favourite record store memories? Share them in ‘comments’.