Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Record Stores: OCD or OMG?

I'm deeply suspicious of any place selling used vinyl that might be mistaken for an operating theatre. Pristine and organised is for record collections, not for the places where you acquire those records. What are the chances of stumbling upon an overlooked vinyl gem in a place where the proprietor has fastidiously cross-referenced every record with Discogs, graded it under halogen light and priced it 30% above market value to help pay for the solid oak parquet floor, custom-built racking, Farrow & Ball paint job and customer cappuccino machine? Shopping in one of these emporia is the record collecting equivalent of buying pre-grated cheese from the supermarket: lazy, expensive and unfulfilling. If cheese means so little to you, stick to Spotify. Passion doesn't come vacuum-wrapped.

At the other extreme are the record shops run by hoarders. The places where mummified vermin, pressed flat between stacks of vinyl, act as dividers to organise the stock. The places where the owners swear they know where everything is, but, thank God, they don't. The places where you need a hard hat. A Davy lamp. A tetanus shot. A free day. Places like Archive Records in Addlestone.


Archive Records in Addlestone

The crates of easy listening dross in front of the shop, all of their sleeves sapped of colour by years of exposure to drizzle and sunlight, seem designed to deter, rather than encourage trade. When I first visited, the owner was out front, setting out his customer deterrents. He explained his carefully constructed filing system, at length, before he would let me into the shop. It was very important that I put all items back exactly where I had found them. Exactly where I had found them. Always do, but erm, okay. Record shop owners are a quirky bunch, best just to nod in all the right places and get digging.

A casual observer might think Archive Records' filing system needs fine-tuning.

The Blues and R'n'B section


A rare glimpse of floor

Vinyl canyon

If you're prepared to risk triggering an avalanche, there are some great records to be discovered here. As it turns out, the owner is friendly, saner than his filing system might suggest, and the vinyl prices are fair. Next time though, I'm taking a forklift truck.

Some haul highlights

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