Give us a quick history of Phonica Records… I opened the store in 2003 with Heidi van den Amstel, who’s now a Radio 1 DJ, and a guy called Tom Relleen, who’s in a band called The Oscillation. We are owned by The Vinyl Factory, which is a group that runs The Vinyl Factory Manufacturing, which is the old EMI pressing plant in Heyes and they run FACT magazine as well as having bespoke limited edition boxsets along with very collectable records. But we’re all distinct
companies within the group and our own shop. We specialise in dance and electronic but we cover most genres of music.
What’s business like today compared to previous years? To be honest, other than additional website sales, we’ve stayed pretty consistent. After the first year of building up, we’re kind of still doing what we were doing back then. There
was maybe a little glitch in 2008/9 with the credit crunch, but it’s very healthy at the moment, especially on the Phonica website. I wouldn’t say online is
growing anymore but we do around 60% in the shop and 40% online.
Other retailers often talk about hard times with people turning to downloads rather than going to their local store… We don’t sell any downloads at all, even though our competitors do. We find that people still want to buy vinyl, maybe less of the day-to-day dance music that people would buy five or ten years ago but, for records that are collectable or that you can’t get on download, sales for us are still strong.
Some are saying vinyl is going through something of a comeback at the moment… For us I wouldn’t say it’s a come-back because it never
INTERNET vs HUMAN ‘We find people still want to
buy vinyl. For records that are collectable or unavailable on
download, sales are still strong’ SIMON RIGG, PHONICA RECORDS
really went away. It’s holding up rather than making a comeback. Maybe for other stores where their sales went down and people were just buying CDs, yes, but for us vinyl sales have been pretty constant.
How was Record Store Day for you this year? It was great. We had the busiest day we’ve ever had in the shop as far as sales are concerned, which was really great. The year before was the busiest day until
that point. We stay open for 12 hours,
have DJs playing all day along with live acts and it’s packed from the moment we open.
There was supposed to be a wider range of genres as far as Record Store Day releases are concerned this year… Actually I thought it was worse this year. There wasn’t all that much for a typical Phonica customer, but what we also find is that, because of where we are located, lots of people will come in and check for all of the Record Store Day releases anyway so we’ll gain sales from that side of things. Also when we open we have a
queue of 250 people because people think that if they go to Rough Trade it’s going to be
chaos with thousands of people there, whereas if you come here you’ve got more of a chance of getting one of the exclusive releases than you have at a typical indie store, for example. Record Store Day was
probably the only time we’ve stocked a Katy Perry record but people still came in for it.
How confident are you about the years ahead? We have a really good name abroad, especially within the genres of music that we sell, so I’d say we’re pretty healthy. We also sell a lot of The Vinyl Factory only stuff, which you can’t get anywhere else, we have a lot of exclusives. We also have our own labels and records that we distribute so we’ve got fingers in many pies.
This week’s High Street Hero Simon Rigg takes on his digital rivals ...
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