Digital sales boom, HMV's on the rocks but St Helens vinyl store is spinning strong (From St Helens Star)
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Digital sales boom, HMV's on the rocks but St Helens vinyl store is spinning strong
WITH digital downloads of music, games and films topping the £1billion mark last year and the once mighty HMV music chain on its knees financially, it may appear the traditional record store has had its day.
However, despite the digital age of iTunes and Spotify, there is an independent gem nestling alongside shops and bars on one of St Helens’ oldest trading streets that tells a different story.
Kaleidoscope Records, Westfield Street, has been a fixture there for nearly 25 years and – while technology drives on at a relentless pace – it continues to thrive in its old school ways.
Row upon row of carefully sourced gems to feast your eyes and hands on line the store. A quick browse through the boxes and you will no doubt find something interesting.
So why is this little solo store going strong while HMV looks set to follow many other big-name chains that have gone to the grave in recent decades?
Well, it’s largely down to the resurgence in vinyl LPs and that old business buzzword ‘a unique selling point’.
Only this month – as an interesting counter balance to the head-spinning digital download figures and drop in CD sales – the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) announced that the sale of vinyl LPs had grown for the fifth year in a row.
And the resurgence of seven and 12-inch disks is encouraging collectors to pay top-dollar for the latest releases.
Kaleidoscope is thriving in the ever growing market by providing affordable new and used vinyl to customers from St Helens – but also draws in visitors from further afield.
As the Star flicked through LP covers looking to uncover a hidden jewel, owner Greg Duggins explained how the increase in popularity of vinyl has helped him expand his business.
Greg, 56, said: “In the past three years I’ve seen a lot more younger customers come through the door to look for both classics and new releases.”
It is not only some of the vinyls that are rare. Independent stores such as Kaleidoscope are difficult to come-by and see collectors travelling from far and wide to visit them.
Greg continued: “We get people travelling from the likes of Manchester and Liverpool to come to the store. The furthest someone has travelled from is Portsmouth.”
Vinyl collectors now not only look at older records but at new limited edition vinyls which are being released constantly.
Last year the three top-selling vinyls were The xx’s Coexist, David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust (re-issue) and Jack White’s Blunderbuss, all of which came out in 2012.
The St Helens store prides itself on stocking not only the big name artists but also niche genres and smaller bands.
Greg added: “I think what attracts a lot of customers who come from further away is my range of new vinyl.
“For example I stock quite a lot of psychedelic rock bands like Porcupine Tree, whose records are harder to find.”
While people search for the likes of The Beatles and Pink Floyd vinyls, Greg predicts that the new releases will rocket in value in the years to come.
He said: “I often get asked about the rarest second-hand vinyl I’ve had come through the store and it was probably a Vashti Bunyan record which I sold for about £700.
“If a vinyl is in good condition, the prices tend to increase. I look at the new releases and I know that in two to three years time the price will double. Most of the new vinyls are limited edition so they’ll definitely be the collectors’ items of the future.”
New stock has become more sought after due to the limited number of prints. Some vinyls are printed as few as 100 times making them collectable, which means they will live on.