I was interviewed for BBC Midlands Today this morning. It was a piece relating to the film Last Shop Standing, which was made by local production company Blue Hippo and directed by my friend Pip. The film has been out for a while, but it’s topical because Record Store Day is coming up, and it’s the official film for that day worldwide. Thousands of screenings across America and everything.
Naturally, we did the interview at my local record store, Polar Bear, where I’m known as a regular, and Steve and Nathan who work there both know my tastes well enough to be able to recommend things or draw my attention to particular items that I may not have found without a thorough search.
The interview was fairly quick and painless. A few shots of me walking into the store, browsing the shelves and so on, and then a chat about what record stores mean to people (lots of different things) and whether we’re seeing the last of them (we’re not – probably).
Sure, the local record store may no longer be the main way people source their mainstream entertainment purchases these days, but I made the point that people like me intend to keep turning up and spending money for at least the next 30 or 40 years. That’s a pretty good long range forecast for any retailer to base decisions on.
What I hadn’t realised is that Polar Bear started 25 years ago, they had seven stores – and they ONLY sold CDs. It was quite a lucrative business to be in at that time, as it happens. But Steve has opted for sustainability, catering for niches and, far more than anything else, second-hand vinyl… for the simple reason that it’s worth more.
I’m not sure whether it was entirely tactful that I was wearing my Bandcamp t-shirt at the time of the interview, but it was sufficiently covered by outer layers. Not that those two things are in competition as such, but it’s possible to read it that way…
Anyway, I should have known what would happen. I’ve never left that store empty handed, as far as I can remember. Steve pointed me towards some 12" singles in the 50p bin that he thought might take my fancy.
Goldmine. It was completely packed with exactly the kind of stuff I used to play on my George FM show – essentially a specialist jazz programme on a dance music radio station. So you get the vibe of the sort of thing I mean.
Picked up some Jazzanova, Domu, Seiji,Truby Trio, Beanfield, Fertile Ground, Fauna Flash, 4Hero… A bunch of stuff on Compost Recordings, Far Out, Ubiquity, Acid Jazz and more. Some tracks I’d forgotten about but loved at the time, some European and Japanese releases that were next to impossible to source in New Zealand – and some unfamiliar remixes that I’m really looking forward to checking out.
Okay, so they were cheapies, but as long as there are people like me who will walk in without a shopping agenda, and leave an hour later with 40 new slabs of vinyl under their arm, there should be a little life left in the independent record store.