Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Are Record Shops Back in Fashion? TALKING POINT

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Are Record Shops Back in Fashion? TALKING POINT

Article excerpt

WITH the increase in internet downloads Gazette music writer ANDREW PAIN asks if there is any future in the traditional record store as one intrepid Teessider embarks on a new venture.

MUSIC lover Oli Heffernan has this week opened an independent record store in the centre of Middlesbrough.

The 29-year-old musician whose background is "playing, rather than selling", admits some believe his idea to be "completely barking mad".

Ack! Ack! Ack! will sell mainly vinyl records but CDs too, and will not stock major label material on compact disc.

What if someone wants the new Coldplay record? "Go to HMV," says Oli, who has played in Teesside bands Idiot Savant, Shrug and British Lichen Society. "In the quantities that a shop like mine has to buy you can't sell it as cheap as anyone else so you might as well not sell it."

But HMV itself announced the closure of 60 stores in January this year. The company has been thrown a pounds 220m lifeline under a refinancing deal from its banks in order to put sales back on track within two years.

And in Middlesbrough in years gone by the likes of Virgin and Our Price have both come and gone, while independent retailer Alan Fearnley shut up shop in 2005 after 43 years in the business.

Others have also opened and closed over the years.

The migration of sales from physical CDs and records to internet downloads has taken its toll on record stores.

But despite this the sales of vinyl have been on the increase.

Sales of vinyl albums went up to 168,296 units in the first half of 2011, compared with 108,307 in the same period of 2010.

It marked the fifth successive year of increases in vinyl sales.

Kim Bayley, Director General of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said: "Vinyl may still be a niche format, but it is growing fast, whether it is the 'warmer' sound many music fans appreciate, the large-scale artwork of a 12" sleeve or its sheer retro appeal.

"Vinyl seems to be capturing the imagination of buyers despite the fact it typically costs twice as much as a CD containing exactly the same music. …

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