Don’t miss Record Store Day!

This month Eel Pie Records’ Kevin Jones talks about the origins of this annual event…

The resurgence of vinyl records has been so strong over the last few years it’s sometimes hard to imagine a time when a special event was needed to entice people back into record shops. But 15 years ago, in 2007, that’s where we
were at.

People had fallen out of love with vinyl and record shops and in love with online shopping and the digital music smorgasbord. Record shops were seen as the musty domain of crusty old blokes obsessing over dusty obscurities from an unmourned past.

Then things changed…

A brainstorming session amongst record-shop folks in Baltimore USA produced the concept of a special day to celebrate independent record shops.

(I like to imagine this was like one of the regular brainstorming sessions that Phil and I have in the ‘Boardroom’ at the Eel Pie pub in Church Street. Once lubricated to precisely the right level, we have produced some pretty good ideas too… The best of which was Eel
Pie Records!)

Back in Baltimore, these geniuses developed their idea into what we now know and love as Record Store Day. A day when a range of special, very limited-edition records are available to buy, but only from independent record shops, like Eel Pie Records, and not from the big corporates or supermarkets and not online.

It worked a treat! The inaugural Record Store Day featured just a few dozen releases that were accompanied on the day by live music performances to entice people to the stores. Clearly, a successful formula had been arrived at and things grew exponentially from there.

Record Store Day arrived in the UK a year later and initially just a handful of record shops around the country took part. I remember going up to Berwick Street in Soho and queuing outside Sister Ray record shop and feasting on the excited air generated by enthusiastic vinyl buyers. Little did I know then that 10 years later, I’d be experiencing Record Store Day in our own record shop – Eel Pie Records. 

Record Store Day is always one of the most fun days of the year for us with hundreds of customers coming to see us and a wonderful buzz in the air. One year I got a phone call from Sky News an hour before we were due to open asking if they could interview me live on air in the shop. That was quite a thrill! 

Every Record Store Day, Church Street is full of eager record buyers, some of whom will have queued since the early hours of Saturday morning in order to be sure of getting one or more of the highly prized releases. (And spending money in other local shops too.)

This year will be no different, with a queue likely to stretch the length of Church Street before we open at 9am. The good news for our customers is that we have developed a really slick approach to the day and manage to get everyone in pretty quickly without it ever becoming a scrum. Our customers tell us they really like the way we arrange the day.

Every year, the Record Store Day big cheeses ask a prominent musician to be the ambassador for the event. This year it’s global superstar Taylor Swift. It may surprise readers to learn that we sell quite a few Taylor Swift albums at Eel Pie Records so we’re very much hoping Taylor will drop by at some point during the day. Why don’t you drop by too on Saturday 23rd April!

Phil Penman and Kevin Jones are the owners of Eel Pie Records.

%d bloggers like this: