Vinyl gold to be mined East Anglia.

HHV WPWith the shortest day of the year approaching and the temperature falling, we set off for deepest, darkest Norfolk, into the north of the county along the A148 on the way to Cromer.

After travelling from Brisbane to the UK, why would I take a shadow laden, lonely road just after lunch? Before leaving the burning antipodean sun, I’d earmarked a few record shops I wanted to visit, all with an interesting tale.

For many years my family have heard my epitaph, “I’ll just pop into this record shop,” not to be seen for an hour or more. My father, knowing my obsession, was happy to drive me, and my two young daughters, to the pretty little town of Holt in search of gold.

Tucked away downtown, there is a post office, and having gained a music license, Post Master Andrew Worsdale, now provides a soundtrack when you’re applying for your passport.

HVV3 WPInside the Holt Vinyl Vault are hundreds of records of many genres in true alphabetical array, waiting to be spun again. Having already lost one Post Office, Andrew didn’t wish for the same to happen again. Thinking more obliquely, he tied in his knowledge of music retail with post office duties, and for the past 18 months, Norfolk has ‘The coolest post office in the world.’

When I arrived, the shop was cosy with a few customers inside, some looking for stamps, others for vinyl. Both my father and I started crate digging in the huge range on offer, and not just left over junk shop items. There was a small couch in the main post office area, probably for elderly customers, but it gave my young daughters somewhere to sit through the tedium of Dad looking at more records.

Having found a couple of David Bowie 12”s I joined the queue for people sending off the last of their Christmas cards.

I introduced myself to Andrew and he quickly came out from behind the ‘stampface’ – his name for the shop counter – and we struck up a conversation regarding his stock, his history and a couple bands I was looking for.

“I saw Simple Minds at Hammersmith Odeon, about 83-84, they were mentally playing stadiums already.”

Selling records and stamps requires great interpersonal skills and enthusiasm, from his posts on Facebook, Andrew writes with great warmth about the playlist for the day and whether Tim the Elder has called in. For a secondhand record shop to survive, patrons need to know there are potential gems to be unearthed, and there’s certainly some in Holt.

TRS WPCloser to home, a visit in to Kings Lynn town centre always has a trip to The Record Shop on St. James St. For nearly 20 years, and expanding into the shop next door, Tony Winfield has been feeding the vinyl hordes of West Norfolk.

The town used to have several music outlets and a stall on the Tuesday Market Place, but time, economics and the upturn in online sales has seen Tony sharing customers with HMV, whom itself almost bit the dust. While the chain store sells new items only, The Record Shop has a stock of secondhand vinyl, CDs, books, DVDs, VHS and several oddities.

On a previous visit he told me, “I could sell on ebay but to me that is not what it’s about. For me it is about chatting with customers, old fashioned face to face shopping.” Something which rings true across many shops catering for secondhand vinyl buyers.

TRS3WPWith the girls loose shopping in the town I was free to browse. But as always, a collector like me doesn’t often find much to buy, but if you like The Beatles, Elvis, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Oasis, Madonna and Queen, these are his best selling acts. While digging, there was a customer with a pile of vinyl chatting with Tony over a cup of tea, it was hard to say who was buying. But soon the girls were not so patiently waiting at the window, so I bought my two Tin Machine LPs, with a brief explanation of my aim to Tony as I dropped him my business card, and left the two tea drinkers to inspect their vinyl.

With time running out for frivolous record buying, I failed to reach Peterborough’s most innovative record shop, Marr’s Plectrum.

Since October last year, Matthew Hawton has been open for business, in his back garden.

“The shop is at the back of the house so please ring the doorbell.” No, really. As Matthew has written on his website, “I can’t complain about the commute.”

Having been online for over 12 months, he had a following, but even so, shop prices across Britain are prohibitive. In the end, an alternative brainwave resulted in this unique record shop.

It’s been hard for Matthew, but some expert help was forthcoming, Last Shop Standing have been helpful in supporting us. Graham Jones has been ace.”

Regardless of the new pressing of the Led Zep catalogue, or new releases from Jack White, and the Arctic Monkeys continuing the impressive vinyl sales, it is shops like these which feed the market which isn’t monitored; secondhand.

While online is great, there’s nothing like digging in crates hoping to hit the jackpot. Picking up a reissue of Dark Side of the Moon is fine. But what about one of the original pressings, whose vinyl may still play better than today’s copy? Think of the stories behind the previous owners, who as students may have rolled joints in the crease of the gatefold, or tried to tie in Speak to me/Breathe with the start of The Wizard of Oz? These are the stories which are behind the musty smell which makes the purchase more fulfilling.

Record collectors and enthusiasts need shops like these, it’s a place to meet the like-minded, to start friendships and to have another pair of eyes searching for the eternally elusive 7” we’re all after. For some, vinyl is a lifestyle, for others, it lasts a lifetime, so these pioneering secondhand record shops are our lifeline.

4 Responses to “Vinyl gold to be mined East Anglia.”
  1. I am planning a trip to Norfolk in April and I now know exactly where to go – cheers!

  2. Thanks, TVD, for taking the time to read and introducing yourselves.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] many years my family have heard my epitaph, “I’ll just pop into this record shop,” not to be seen for an hour or […]

  2. […] to my article on East Anglian vinyl haunts, the local King’s Lynn newspaper spoke with Tony Winfield of The Record Shop as a tie in to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: