Vinyl records have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, with many artists, old and new, reverting to a traditional format. The boost in popularity has also helped retailers to thrive, but what makes a great record shop?
An online forum recently discussed the key factors, and here are their findings.
1. Good Layout
This is a common concern for a lot of record store shoppers. The best shops consider their layout carefully. There should be plenty of room in the aisles and space to browse. One person online complained that they are almost touching other shoppers behind them, and that’s not ideal.
2. Knowledgeable Staff
While we shouldn’t expect members of staff to be experts in every musical genre, it would help if they could direct us to relevant sections within the shop. Respondents indicate they like to chat about artists and for the shop staff to have a good, all-round musical knowledge.
It doesn’t sound like great sales practice, but some shop owners like to make derogatory comments about a buyer’s purchases. It’s happened to me, so I can testify that it takes place. As respondents put it, be respectful and don’t treat buyers like idiots.
4. Community Engagement
One commenter mentions that the local record shop hosts listening parties and allows local bands to come and play. In an age where online commerce is taking over, all retail outlets should aim to become a part of the community, and record stores are no different.
5. A ‘Holy Grail’ Section
It’s always great to look at the scarce stuff, even if some of the most sought-after releases may be outside of our budgets. One forum user describes this as a ‘Holy Grail’ selection, which is an excellent description. They like to see these true rarities displayed on the shop walls.
6. Good, Consistent Prices
A regular complaint about some record shops is the excessive pricing structure. This may be a problem in the industry, with many vinyl releases being listed as premium products. Pricing should be fair and consistent for new and used records, according to some record collectors.
7. A Diverse Selection
Some record shops restrict themselves to one or two genres. OK, so they may attract dedicated metal fans or those seeking punk and indie releases, but they will be closed off to many potential customers. One commenter would be happy to see jazz and experimental music, even if this isn’t their thing.
8. A Separate ‘Used’ Section
Record buyers would like to see used records kept in a separate area. This would seem logical, but not all shops follow this essential requirement. Like most buyers of a certain age, the forum community buys a high proportion of used records as opposed to new releases.
9. Try Before You Buy
Posters regularly comment about the ability to listen to a record before they buy it. Listening booths may be a thing of the past, but shop owners could land a sale if they take the record and spin the first few tracks.
10. A Listening Experience
You’re in a record shop, so why should the store run in silence? While some feel that incidental music may distract them from concentrating on finding a purchase, most forum contributors would welcome some background tunes to accompany their shopping experience.
11. Unsorted Bins
Some shoppers would like their record shop to have everything sorted as soon as new arrivals reach the store. However, some forum members want to be the first to check out new stock. According to posters, as long as the records have been priced and graded, an unsorted bin helps buyers find the latest stock.
12. Don’t Overcrowd
Have you ever been to a store where the records are packed so tightly in the racks that you can’t browse effectively? It’s a strange approach to sales that makes no real sense. Not only do shoppers struggle to see what they’re searching for, it could damage the merchandise. The message from the discussion is clear – leave us more space.
13. Clean and Welcoming
OK, so you have an extensive grunge section but don’t complete the look by having a filthy, untidy shop. The replies to this thread include comments about clean stores, which should be the aim of any retail premises.
14. Good Lighting
This may seem like a strange suggestion, but good lighting can be a real bonus for the consumer. If a record shop is dimly lit, are they trying to hide something when you inspect the records for scratches and marks?
15. A Range of Formats
Vinyl purchasers may be alien to CDs, but some want to browse all formats. One commenter even suggested that some stores don’t stock 45s, but it’s clear that collectors and music lovers want as much choice as possible.