Independent Record Shops: 10 To Visit Before You Die

Going crate digging? Wherever you are in the UK, make sure you don't overlook these goldmines.
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Going crate digging? Wherever you are in the UK, make sure you don't overlook these goldmines.

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Acorn Records

3 Glovers Walk, Yeovil, BA20 1LH

Acorn Records is a Yeovil shop known for its friendly customer service and knowledgeable staff, including evergreen 83 year old Mavis Slater. She is the oldest record store assistant I know and her music knowledge would put most teenagers to shame. It seems like she has been working in the music industry since Thomas Edison made his first discs.

Coda Music 

12 Bank Street, The Mound, Edinburgh, EH1  2LN

Located up the hill from Edinburgh’s Waverley station, Coda Music is in a beautiful location looking down on Princes Street. The shop’s range of folk and traditional Scottish music attracts visitors from all over the world. Owners Dougie and Rose had a vision – to open a shop where the public would receive quality service from staff who knew about music. It has certainly worked.

The Diskery

99 Bromsgrove Street, Birmingham, B5 6QB

If the Dr Who producers ever wished to locate an episode in a typical 60’s record shop then The Diskery would be their natural choice. The shop has hardly changed in 40 years.

Posters from a bygone era adorn the walls, including original Beatles, Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran material. Whilst the shop is packed with vinyl and music memorabilia, my favourite item is a newspaper article pinned to the wall informing you that in 1969, Delia Smith baked the cake which featured on the front cover of the Rolling Stones album “Let It Bleed”.

The Diskery stocks an amazing collection of old wind-up gramophones; copies of Melody Maker (from as far back as 1947); matchbox cars and a selection of photographs from the ‘Carry On’ movies.

Jumbo

St John’s Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LQ

Established in 1971 Jumbo Records is a Leeds institution. Go to any festival and you are bound to see people walking about in the stores iconic T-Shirts. Jumbo was in the right place at the right time when punk rock came about. Despite its poor location tucked away on the top floor of the St John’s Centre therefore not attracting passing trade. It relies on word of mouth and having something every record shop needs: knowledgeable enthusiastic staff who wish to share their passion for new music with you.

Pie & Vinyl

61, Castle Road, Portsmouth, PO5 3AY

The idea of Pie & Vinyl is simple, combining their passion for music with one of England’s favourite old fashioned comfort foods, pies.

They specialise in new music and new artists on vinyl and quality pies. I can think of no better way of spending an afternoon than tucking into one of their delicious pies then trawling through the racks of vinyl to pick up something to listen to when I get home.

Whist enjoying the food don’t forget to take a look at the music poster art on the walls. These posters have been created by artists all over the world.  The idea being that bands and artists work together to create a poster to promote a gig at a venue on the bands tour. Each show has a separate design and it is never repeated again. This is a place you can spend a couple of hours in as they also provide a vast collection of music magazines for you to read.

Raves From The Grave

20 Cheap Street, Frome, BA11 1BN

Any music fan visiting Somerset should make a diversion to Frome and call in on an Aladdin’s Cave of a store called Raves from the Grave. It is situated in the old town on a medieval street full of interesting retail outlets and I am confident it is the only record shop in the world that has an open leat running in front of the store. A leat is an artificial watercourse a bit like a stream. It is the kind of shop you remember from your childhood, records CDs and DVDs are piled everywhere. You always feel that you will find some collectable classic amongst the boxes. Like a number of independent record shops over the last few years they have expanded and now have branches in Warminster and Bath.

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Rapture

Market Square, Witney, OX28 6BB

Gary Smith and Mark Sharman opened ‘Rapture’ in Witney June 2004. They will never forget their first day. The first customer called in and asked for the new Petre Andre single ‘Insania’. The next customer came in, they too asked for Insania suddenly there was a huge panic at Rapture. It was their first day of trading the shop had only been open five minutes and they had already sold out of Peter Andre’s Insania. Mark got on the phone straight away and asked how quickly the record company could get twenty copies to them. They need not have worried they never got asked for Insania ever again and six months later twenty copies still sat on the shelves of Rapture before they took the decision to clear them out for ten pence each (rumour has it they still have nineteen left). Since that difficult first day Rapture has gone from strength to strength opening branches in Evesham and a third store in Oxford. The Oxford branch trades as Truck Store and specialises in vinyl.

Record Collector

233 Fulwood Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, S10  3BA

If ever a man deserved an award to services to the music industry then it is Barry Everard, owner of Record Collector. Since he opened his shop in 1978 he has been at the forefront of promoting Sheffield bands. He was even involved in suggesting music for the film ‘The Full Monty’, parts of which were filmed in Sheffield. Anyone calling in is encouraged to say hello to Barry as he will be happy to share some of his great anecdotes about life in the music industry. You will recognise him as he will have wearing a Hawaiian shirt on (he has been wearing the same style for over 30 years).

Rough Trade

91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL

Perhaps the most famous independent record shops in the world. Rough Trade has two shops in London one in Talbot Road in Ladbroke Grove and the larger store located in a side street off Brick Lane in London’s East End. The 5000 square foot store was opened in 2008. You will normally find the shop packed with people eating at the cafe or enjoying a smoothie. Many more will be taking advantage of the shop’s internet terminals. This is the record shop I suggest all record store owners should visit to inspire them. The shops biggest draw though is the artists they have performing. From Paul Weller to Radiohead their is always something happening and best of all the events are free.

Spillers Records

36, The Hayes, Cardiff, CF1 2AJ

Opened in 1894, Spillers is recognised as the oldest record shop in the world. Owned by the Todd family the shop is a Cardiff legend, and loves nothing better than championing good music. In 2006 the shop was threatened with closure, and over 20,000 people including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce signed a petition of support. Luckily for the people of Cardiff Spiller’s is still standing. Any music fan visiting the city must check it out especially if you are a fan of blues or country as their selection is second to none.

Graham Jones' brilliant new coffee table book is Strange Requests and Comic Tales from Record Shops. It's illustrated by the acclaimed cartoonist Kipper Williams.