Give us a brief history of Reckless Records… Reckless Records started in 1983 and we expanded with stores in San Francisco and Chicago as well as opening more stores in London. At one point we had four stores. We downsized after a wobble
in the mid-2000s and we now have one store in London and three in Chicago. We do general second-hand
sales, mostly dance vinyl, rock and pop vinyl and some genre stuff as well.
How’s business today compared to when you first started? It’s so different to the 80s that it doesn’t really compare in terms of numbers. The years have rolled by and inflation has moved on, but we’re pretty comfortable at the moment. Formats have come and gone
obviously. When we first opened there were no CDs. They’ve risen and risen and then declined in both value and quantity. We had
a bash at DVDs because they rapidly became pretty worthless and we weren’t comfortable with them because they were a move away from our music base. We’ve tried to stick to being a music shop and I think most record stores that are selling second- hand stock have dabbled in other things as well. But we’ve found that the core market, as far as we’re concerned, doesn’t involve DVDs or any other formats. We don’t have space for T-shirts so we don’t sell them either. 7” singles have declined
rapidly, both in demand and supply. Second-hand 7” singles are pretty much worthless apart from rarities and genre stuff. The rarer vinyl items have become considerably more valuable whereas average titles have plateaued, unless you have a collection that’s in mint condition. They’re very collectable and sell for good money online. I suppose as a secondhand
shop we’re always up against people being lured to eBay but a
INTERNET vs HUMAN
“Twenty years ago, people were forecasting
the disappearance of vinyl and it didn’t happen” DUNCAN KERR, RECKLESS RECORDS
lot have discovered that it’s a fruitless exercise with the collections they’ve got, it’s only worthwhile for the rarer stuff. When it comes to rarer
collections, a seller might get more from selling online than they would a secondhand record shop but we still get collections coming to us because it takes a lot of work to sell stuff online.
A lot of people are talking about a vinyl revival. Do you see that happening at all? I can’t really speak for new shops
but, as a second-hand commodity, vinyl has always maintained its value and has always been collectable, unlike CDs which came and went. We do sell CDs but most of them aren’t collectable at all, they’re purely for convenience. Obviously new vinyl has
reached a certain percentage of the overall sales in new music shops, it might be a small one but it’s steady. There are limited editions of every half-way decent release that comes out and they can become quite collectable over the following months once they sell-out. Like I say we don’t deal in new
stock so we’re not too aware of any growth in those sales. Second-hand collections do keep coming through though; people buy, people sell, they sell bits of collections or collections of
relatives that have passed on. At the moment our shop is about 70% vinyl and 30% CD.
How confident are you about the future? It’s hard to say because 20 years ago people were forecasting the disappearance of vinyl and it didn’t disappear. 10 years ago people were forcasting the disappearance of second-hand music shops because of the digitalisation of people’s record collections and the degree to which CDs had taken over the market, but we’re still here. Our business has had a couple
of wobbles but we disposed of a couple of stores and settled up again, so I’m fairly confident about the future. In five years there might be a significant tailing off of vinyl but it doesn’t look that way at the moment.
This week’s High Street Hero Duncan Kerr takes on his digital rivals ...
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