Love Record Stores Day celebrates the best in record shops around the world, Getintothis’ Danni King and the team on their favourites and why.
Nearly all businesses have been affected by the current pandemic, with independent businesses the most of all – including record stores.
Fear continues to be rife surrounding the survival of these much-loved music stores, as their only source of business remains to be online, and usual major events such as in-store gigs, and World Record Store Day being rearranged or cancelled.
Initially created via the hashtag #LoveRecordStores, whereby independent retailers could introduce their store and ultimately put it on the map, whilst large music companies and fans could share and pledge their support.
The ultimate aim being that loverecordstores.com would become a handy guide for all music lovers to find new independent record stores and support them.
As the movement grew and gained support, Love Record Stores Day was announced; a day-long event featuring over 130 independent record stores on Saturday, June 20.
Love Record Stores Day will see dozens of limited edition releases of new and re-issued vinyl available across all the stores online platforms on Saturday.
Alongside these releases, a 24-hour event of online live performances, DJ sets, interviews and readings from a wide variety of influential music figures and artists will also take place, as independent record labels such as Partisan Records, Memphis Industries and ATO Records pledge their support.
Love Record Stores Day is set to be huge for vinyl stores and music fans alike, and comes at the perfect time as stores have had the green light to slowly re-open.
With so many brilliant independent vinyl stores taking part, and needing our support more than ever, the Getintothis team have picked out their personal favourites. – Danni King
VOD Records – North Wales
It’s been so heart-warming to see the record shop go from the brink of extinction to a thriving, beloved institution in a smattering of years.
During this time, a number of new shops have appeared, and in Mold, North Wales we have the small but perfectly formed VOD Records.
Run with passion and diligence by the wonderful Colin Trueman, VOD has the distinction of being the smallest record store in the UK.
Dwarfed by its neighbouring frozen food retailer, the shop is barely wider than the doorway, making it immediately engaging and welcoming.
The handful of steps between doorway and counter are an absolute trove of new and old vinyl surrounding you on each side.
This really gives you the feel of being at a record fair, digging through Krautrock, Psych and rare indie with the ever smiling Colin always a few feet away ready to advise.
An immersive and joyous experience. – Si Jones
Up North Records – Chester
All record shops are magic and a vital part of any creative community; I’m sure I’m not the only one to express such a sentiment, it’s a truism that applies across the land.
But one store in particular holds a special place in my heart; Up North Records in Chester.
Simply put, it was the first place our band, The Shipbuilders, saw a physical record of our own out in the wild. Wow, what a thrill.
But Up North did more than just stock the record, they made an event of it – literally.
The shop itself has had somewhat of a nomadic existence, changing location within Chester city centre, but at the time it was located within the Watergate Rows, which meant we were able to play an acoustic set on the fabled Chester rows, beer supplied to all, and celebrate our release a whole week early, handily on Record Store Day.
The reason I spin this yarn is not to draw attention to our band, but to highlight the effort Up North put in to engaging with the music community and reaching out, going that extra mile to place an independent record shop at the centre of a city’s cultural scene.
Their stock of music is not to be sniffed at either. That day, I left with King Crimson, Charles Mingus and Radiohead vinyl. Cor!
As I’ve said, the shop has moved location several times since, due to rent prices and the like, and is currently sat in St. Werburgh Street.
Every time I pop back in I’m greeted warmly and asked for updates on the band; High Fidelity this ain’t.
Highly amplified and highly recommended. – Matty Loughlin-Day
The Book & Record Bar – West Norwood, London
The Book and Record Bar in West Norwood is one of the jewels of South London.
Run by Michael Johnson, it offers a fantastic collection of vinyl that reflects his encyclopaedic knowledge, fearless diversity in taste, and background as a DJ – skills which he brings to bear on the decks in the shop.
The large collection of books is well worth a dip into, which, in conjunction with a tastefully stocked but bijou licensed bar and a top-drawer coffee machine, means that hours can slip by unnoticed in the shop.
The BRB is a veritable Café des Poètes for an ever-expanding gang of South London artists. – Jono Podmore
Defend Vinyl – Liverpool
I moved to Liverpool about seven years ago with the city’s local music scene being the primary reason for upping sticks and settling here.
Like many other young (ish) musicians, I decided to settle around the Smithdown Road area.
There was plenty of bars putting on gigs, a 24 hour ASDA for late night beers, and an easy trip on the 86 into town for those messier nights out.
I found it hard to believe that in the middle of this student utopia that there wasn’t a record shop nearby and finding myself working in HMV in Liverpool One it was safe to say that I bought all of my records with my staff discount card there.
Imagine my joy when suddenly right next door to my local pub (Kelly’s) a small yellow box was about to open its doors.
In its humble beginnings Defend was a small piece of gold on Smithdown Road, stocking the records from bands you could not always get access to in the likes of HMV.
Graham’s taste in music seemed very similar to mine, and he was always happy to stock the records of the local bands including my very own first 7-inch with Gintis.
Defend Vinyl also played an important role in the early Smithdown Road Festival events, providing a small venue for acoustic acts such as Chris from Silent Sleep and both Carl and myself from Gintis.
It’s safe to say these events were standing room only and resulted in the majority of the crowd spilling onto the road.
Fast forward a few years and Defend Vinyl has moved to a bigger premises.
Now sandwiched in-between Handyman’s, Craft, and Kelly’s, it’s in the perfect position for punters like me walking from pub to pub.
Graham has now started stocking T-Shirts, merch and more importantly to me, Ernie Ball guitar strings.
At last year’s Smithdown Road Festival I found myself with a couple of snapped strings just hours before my band were due on at Handyman’s.
No need for the 86 this time, Graham‘s got your back. – Kyle Lee
Vinyl Cafe – Carlisle
Few Cumbrians would argue that the county is an audiofiles paradise, perhaps not a go-to hotspot for music lovers either.
Kendal’s Brewery Arts Club and Carlisle’s Old Fire Station‘s calendars are a mix of touring artists, tribute acts and club nights, while Barrow’s Forum Theatre picks up those that have risen to the top from Lancashire in the deep south.
They are run by grafters, in the face of a sparse population which is unlikely to come out on a Tuesday night to catch an art-pop band on the penultimate leg of their winter tour, and it’s no different on Abbey Street in Carlisle, where record shop Vinyl Cafe sits.
My first visit, predictably, was on Record Store Day in 2017.
The shop then was a hotbed of activity with live performances throughout, but once the initial adrenaline of grabbing your prize subsided, the clientele that day began to take in the ethos of the place.
“It’s about slowing down to appreciate and actually taking the time to really listen,” they say. With coffee and cake in abundance, its easy to see why this is the perfect place to spend an afternoon doing exactly that.
Indeed, its location makes this a true music lovers paradise.
This is not a place in the big city that people may pop in as they pass, but instead somewhere you head with a purpose. To search, to listen, to have a bit of crack, like.
Locals won’t need told, but if you are paying the Great Border City a visit.
Before you head to Brunton Park for the match, or Botchergate for afters (of all sorts), take a moment to head to Vinyl Cafe, and just listen. – Lewis Ridley
Sound It Out Records – Stockton-on-Tees
Sound It Out Records was made famous in Jeanie Findlay’s critically acclaimed 2011 documentary where we are introduced to the House Music genre known as Makina.
This jewel is packed with rare and recent vinyl and is owned and run by Tom Butchart, in Stockton-on-Tees up in the North East of England.
In 2011, after seeing the documentary, the author celebrated his 50th birthday by returning to the North East, where he grew up.
During the pilgrimage, Sound It Out Records righted a wrong that was not of their making.
In July 1972 the author went to a shop in Stockton-on-Tees to buy All The Young Dudes after seeing Mott The Hoople play it on Top Of The Pops.
The record store (Leslie Brown’s) persuaded the 10-year-old to take I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing by The New Seekers instead.
39 years later, Tom Butchart took back the offending disc and nailed it to their wall of shame.
Understanding the pain, he provided a copy of the LP Mott as compensation. – Jonathan Butters
The Diskery – Birmingham
An out of the way gem on the edge of the city centre, The Diskery largely specialises in second hand vinyl, but with a good selection of CDs as well.
The place is a destination in its own right and a journey worth taking, for you will never know what you will unearth.
We were there in the summer last year and came away with a clutch of CDs at less than a tenner for the lot.
There are thousands upon thousands of records, only some of which are in racks. Others are in boxes piled on the floor, some labelled, some not.
There’s a note on the wall telling us that not all the stock is out front – there’s plenty more out back. It’s very Black Books, but with vinyl instead.
But the best bit was when it was suggested we should return the following day (Saturday) for a gig and a couple of beers.
Now this was intriguing.
The shop is so rammed full of material, we were struggling to see how anything more than a solo artist with a guitar could fit in, and then, it would be a tight squeeze.
So, we did indeed pay a return visit to The Diskery on Saturday to see The Dead Finks setting up, as store owner Liam, passed a couple of beers our way as a thanks for coming.
The sight of a full four piece band, drums, bass, guitar and singer squeezed into a corner of the shop was remarkable enough.
Add in black velvet cowboy hats, purple satin shirts and Lone Ranger masks and you’ll get a feel for how bizarre the whole thing was. But in a good way.
It put big grins on our faces. – Peter Goodbody
Banquet Records – Kingston
Moving to Twickenham for university in 2013 and being one of few Northerners at my university, I felt very out of place.
Banquet – initially via New Slang – helped me find my place and my people.
Going from the sticky McClusky’s (RIP) floor, to in-stores, to browsing their shelves when out in Kingston with friends (even though I didn’t buy records back then), the independent community spirit always shone through and for that they’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Even now that I live back up North, Banquet is almost always my first port of call when buying physical releases. – Mia Hind
Just Dropped In – Coventry
Located in the heart of Coventry’s creative space FarGo Village, an industrial space inhabited by over 40 independent businesses, Just Dropped In is a fantastic feature store in the city centre.
A classic record store, covered in vinyl from floor to ceiling, it’s homely and welcoming from the minute you walk in.
One of few in the city, it provides music lovers with the chance to bag limited edition vinyl and new releases, whilst exploring the creative culture of Coventry.
I discovered it on my break at work, and purchased one of my first records there, Meat Is Murder by The Smiths, and continue to try to visit whenever I’m back in Coventry, (especially if I’m after something in particular!).
A true hidden gem in Coventry. – Danni King
Off The Beaten Tracks – Louth
Louth is a lovely quaint town in Lincolnshire, home to – of course – the great Robert Wyatt.
Louth’s local council has done its best to stave off multi-national companies that have infiltrated most other towns of similar size. I mean, Louth has a cheese shop, for goodness sake!
Among its array of independent businesses is Off The Beaten Tracks.
My favourite record store in Britain.
Its owner, Mark, has to be the loveliest owner of such an establishment.
The memo of high-brow arrogance reserved for such vocations certainly didn’t get received here, for Mark is more than helpful to all of his customs, always parting with his trademark smile.
The store has a nice selection of second-hand vinyl along with keeping its fingers on the pulse of new releases, which always arrive on time.
My fondest memory is walking in and asking for the latest Pissed Jeans record.
“I think it’s in this package that’s just arrived,” said Mark, who then asked me to open up his mail! I mean, where else can a customer open up a box that possessed the treasure I was looking for?
A top man spearheading a top establishment.
I do worry that he’ll one day go missing amid the discarded NMEs and the like located in the shop’s corner.
Best sort them out, mate. – Simon Kirk
La Metralleta – Madrid
Each record has a story.
The small love letter found in the sleeve, the amount of hands it has been crossed between, or in my case, the absolute surprise of finding something so close to home so far away.
Before I tell the story, I’d like to thank my older brother Matthew for taking me on my first trip to Hairy Records on Bold Street many years ago, where I picked up my first two records: Bob Marley – Legend and Bob Dylan – Street Legal.
For anybody from Liverpool, or planet Earth, to stumble across this is not uncommon at all.
Intrigued, I entered, to be met with AC/DC t-shirts and Guns n Roses posters.
Upon leaving, neither fulfilled nor disappointed, I spotted an underground public toilet directly across, which was most welcome at the time.
As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I realized it was in fact a record treasure trove.
Now, as I’ve mentioned, spotting The Beatles anywhere in the world is not at all uncommon, and I ask any reader to believe me when I say this: the very, very first record I picked up out of perhaps 5,000 was The Pale Fountains’ Jean’s Not Happening “Edicion Española”.
For reference sakes, The Pale Fountains was the first group of Mick Head, Liverpool’s greatest cult singer-songwriter.
To stumble upon this unexpectedly for €2 was, needless to say, the perfect kickstart I needed for my record collection in Spain.
What’s more is I now have Spanish editions of lots of albums, including Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, which includes the prolific, Enredado En El Azul, Un Simple Giro Del Destino and Ya Eres Una Gran Chica – Andrew Loughlin
Grey n’ Pink Records – Chester
Tucked away on the outskirts of Chester City Centre, on a road full of restaurants, takeaways, mini markets and an array of independent shops and traders is Chester’s finest Record Shop.
Grey n’ Pink Records is the epicentre of Chester’s limited, but growing, record shop subculture.
Opened in August 1985, the shop is as eclectic as the surroundings it finds itself in.
Somehow managing to survive during the era of digitalization and online shopping becoming the norm, Grey n’ Pink stocks a huge collection of used vinyl and CDs covering almost everything the musical connoisseur could want.
Named after the album In the Land of Grey and Pink by Prog-Rock titans Caravan, the store is renowned for being a paradise for collectors and crate-diggers alike.
A true institution – Grey n’ Pink is the consummate record buying experience. – Stephen Birch
Crash Records – Leeds
A long time ago, before most of you were born, I spent a few years in Leeds, managing one of the two HMV stores.
There were a couple of indies there who were obviously the enemy but, whisper it quietly, very good and highly respected: Crash and Jumbo.
Jumbo the bigger of the two, Crash the more intimate; a small unit on a main street with a fine range.
And there was a sales rep for CBS who called to all stores on a weekly basis, a lovely bloke called Ian; funny, intelligent, good company. Like all Ians basically.
Time passed and sales reps weren’t a thing anymore, so Ian bought Crash, and he’s been running it for years now.
Added a basement, put bands on down there, expanded into vinyl when its started coming back, added online, built the same rapport with his customers that he built with all of us in shops. Knows his stuff.
Which is what you want in a proper record shop.
Shop, not store. They’re not stores, they’re SHOPS. (In the same way that the plural of vinyl IS vinyl, these things are important).
It was Ian who first pointed out to me that RSD is basically the indie version of Christmas.
Christmas has been somewhat hampered this year.
So, if you’re Leeds based, or close, or visiting, pop into Crash, show then some love.
They’re genuinely bloody excellent. – Ian Salmon
Monorail Records – Glasgow
A trip to Glasgow with my best mate from school yielded much reward with trips to music venues Nice N’ Sleazy, King Tuts, Stereo and the world famous Barrowlands Ballroom.
And the fruits of the record shops proved an equally beguiling pull with the city boasting the likes of Rubadub, Missing and second hand shop Mixed Up.
But our favourite was undoubtedly Monorail Records.
Homed on one of the city’s oldest streets, Trongate, you have to pass through Mono’s superb vegan cafe, a circular arts hub which is ideal for lunch before perusing the many racks inside the record shop.
But don’t let the odd indie rock & roller distract you from the myriad of delights Monorail has to offer.
With specialist sections for jazz, hip hop, metal, whacked out cosmiche sounds and bonus DVDs and world cinema, you could easily get lost down the music abyss and kill half a day in this relatively small but perfectly formed independent.
A must-visit for any discerning music fan. – Peter Guy
Rough Trade West – London
There’s been a Rough Trade shop in Ladbroke Grove since 1976, moving to its current Talbot Road spot in 1982.
So this isn’t about the much grander store just off Brick Lane or the much-missed one beneath a Covent Garden skate shop.
Just off Portobello Road, close to my favourite ever record shop (the late, combined Stand Out!/Minus Zero), this is a typical small record shop festooned with rare picture sleeves, flyers and posters on its walls and packed with vinyl, CDs and magazines.
Approachable and knowledgeable staff sell a great selection, much of which is pretty obscure.
I’ve bought many things from them over the last almost thirty years, including my first ever records by the likes of Scritti Politti, The Shins and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
I don’t visit very often these days now I’m no longer living down south, but when I get the chance, I always enjoy spending some time rifling through their racks. – WIll Neville
Record Collector – Sheffield
A regular haunt when I was a student in Sheffield, I had to walk past it heading to and from lectures for two years.
Unsurprisingly, this meant I was a very frequent visitor.
Sadly, I’ve not been there for almost twenty years, but I snapped up a load of secondhand CDs on that occasion – a section of the store that I had regularly raided over the years.
Record Collector was where I got my CD collection to blossom from literally a handful to a few shelves’ worth.
I’m not sure the government intended the introduction of the student loan to fund such a habit, but it did in my case.
My first records by Slowdive, Hüsker Dü, Ramones and The Colorblind James Experience were all snapped up here.
Whenever I next return to Sheffield, this shop is likely to be my very first stop. – Will Neville
SIster Ray – London
Named after the Velvet Underground song, Sister Ray opened in 1989, when it was part of the famous musical scene of Berwick Street, at the heart of London’s Soho.
Three decades on – and after the Oasis’ What’s the Story cover, Berwick Street has lost most of its older record shops, but Sister Ray remains strong, albeit in a different building.
The shop continues offering great records and vibe and is a major reference for Record Store Day.
If my memory is not mistaken, it was there that I first heard the incredible voice of James Carr on the speakers – and bought the record.
Also, at Sister Ray I purchased a ticket to a gig in a record shop for the very last time.
A double bill with Black Mountain and The Black Angels, back in 2010, at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. “Tickets inside”, read the poster at the door.
Where do you see that nowadays? – Rogerio Simoes