An Interview with Vinylstore Jr

By Juliette Moisan

15th February 2021

It is undeniable that Covid-19 has had an impact on all sectors of business, but the culture field might be one of the most harshly impacted. In particular, record stores have been considerably overlooked. While the sales of vinyl disks have been increasing in the last few years, record stores have often struggled to maintain their activity. They have often had to be innovative as well, to face their forced closing and the postponement of Record Store Day.

To discuss the prospect of record stores and how Covid-19 has affected the livelihoods of their owners, we met with Nick. He created Vinylstore Jr, a record shop in the heart of Canterbury, in 2016, with the aim to create a place where people could find the records of their dreams.

Our need for culture has been evidenced by the current crisis. Apart from essay deadlines, what has punctuated our lockdown days? Good music, captivating books, movies, or Netflix shows. We have all realised, even if it wasn’t initially clear, that we need culture and the arts. However, stores providing cultural goods have had to close. More often than not, the obligation to close has been understood. Nick, from Vinylstore Jr, told us that he had “no specific challenge to being deemed ‘non-essential’”. Indeed, while music is crucial for our mental health and our well-being, it “cannot be deemed essential in the face of a pandemic”, health has to take precedence. A point that Nick raised that a lot of shop owners have made vocal though, is the lack of precision of the measures implemented, which, according to Nick, “is encouraging a sizeable number of the community to take lockdown measures less seriously” and could undermine its effectiveness, which would be damageable in the long run.

While a significant part of shopping for records is just browsing and taking the time to be struck by sleeves and artists we might not have otherwise considered buying, it is of course crucial to adapt the shopping experience to the situation. Record stores have had to adapt just as bookshops have, trying to come up with ideas to keep their business afloat. Nick has chosen, like many other stores, to offer a free (and masked) delivery system in Kent. Not only does it allow anyone to receive the records directly at home, but it’s also a way to keep some form of human interaction, something we all need right now. This solution might not be viable in the long run, but the loyalty of customers has helped Nick stay afloat. Nick told us that he lost “approximately half” of he his usual earnings over the previous lockdown so this is obviously not a sustainable way to maintain the business. Yet again,the uncertainty is omnipresent and makes it difficult to plan ahead and to budget efficiently.

It is clearly more important than ever to support local businesses, particularly as we are now in the UK's third national lockdown.

Images courtesy of Vinylstore Jr.

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