Home   Kent   News   Article

Record Store Day: Founder Spencer Hickman, formerly of Rough Trade, is keeping Transmission Records closed as queues build elsewhere in Kent


More news, no ads

LEARN MORE

Each year record stores across Kent participate in Record Store Day, an event supporting small independent retailers by keeping music lovers buying locally.

Some shopkeepers are expecting long queues - in previous years die-hard collectors have even stood outside stores from 3am to snag one of the event's limited vinyl releases.

Record Store Day is huge for independent vinyl shops across the UK
Record Store Day is huge for independent vinyl shops across the UK

But the man who brought Record Store Day to the UK 12 years ago still isn't ready to open up his shop in the post-lockdown environment.

Spencer Hickman runs Transmission Records on Northdown Road, Cliftonville , with his partner Kimberley Dunne, an award-winning visual effects artist who has worked on films like Godzilla and Thor.

Before moving to Margate six years ago, Spencer also ran the huge Rough Trade record shop in East London, brushing shoulders with influential artists from all over the world.

The pair moved down to the coast for a taste of the quieter life and decided to start a new venture.

Their shop bills itself as specialising in rare Japanese pressings, soundtracks and post-punk vinyl.

Record Store Day founder Spencer Hickman will not be opening his Cliftonville store. Pic: Jo Bridges
Record Store Day founder Spencer Hickman will not be opening his Cliftonville store. Pic: Jo Bridges

But on the biggest day of the year for independent record shops, their doors will remain closed.

Spencer said: "This year is just an outlier with regards to everything, so we don't want people to come and queue up.

"The whole point of being a record store to me is you're flicking through the racks, you're chatting to people in the store, and you can't really do that in our current climate.

"So for us it just felt like the right thing to do."

Usually the limited pressings available on Record Store Day can only be purchased in store, encouraging long queues and trips to you local vinyl specialist.

The founder described this year's event as being 'tinged with sadness'
The founder described this year's event as being 'tinged with sadness'

But due to the pandemic shops are also allowed to put the records online from 6pm this evening.

Spencer said: "Because our store is so small we don't feel super comfortable being properly open.

"They relaxed all the rules this year, so some store are operating an appointment system and others are just putting the items on at 6pm.

He joked: "Less transmission in Transmission is always good!"

Record Store Day was originally cancelled in April due to the pandemic.

The event has been running for 12 years
The event has been running for 12 years

It was subsequently rearranged and split into three separate "drop" days, the first being today and the other two at the end of September and October.

Despite being closed, Spencer still sees the national campaign as one of the most important days for vinyl stores.

He said: "It's totally essential, I mean it's busier than Christmas week.

"It's tinged with a bit of sadness this year - we usually have bands playing, signings and the open bar.

"It's that one day where everybody makes the effort to swing by, so it's a little bit sad it's not going to be like that this year, but hopefully it'll go back to that again next year - fingers crossed."

Vince and daughter Tahlula run the store together
Vince and daughter Tahlula run the store together

Elsewhere in Kent, store owners are hoping the usual suspects will be waiting patiently outside the shop ready to snag the new limited pressings.

Vince Monticelli runs The Record Store in Park Mall, Ashford , with his daughter Tahlula.

Not much is changing in the shop this year to keep Record Store Day more socially distanced, as the family duo always restrict the premises to three customers on the day anyway.

Vince said: "We've always insisted that the purpose of the day is to give our customers the records they want.

"Record Store Day can be a bit like a feeding trough in the area where the releases are, so we'll have one in the trough, one waiting for the trough and another in the shop."

Huge queues have formed outside Ashford's The Record Store in previous years
Huge queues have formed outside Ashford's The Record Store in previous years

They also prohibit customers from buying multiple copies of sought-after pressings.

Vince said: "We find that a bit criminal - they're stopping that actually want the records just so they can flog it for a bit of extra profit.

"Last year within a couple of hours of opening we had people charging in saying 'Robert Plant's online for £120, have you got any left?'"

The business owners are expecting a longer queue this year because of the need to socially distance, but less people due to some customers staying away.

They also hope the day can offer the same kind of profit spike that annual Record Store Day events usually offer.

The shop would normally have guest musicians playing, but have had to cancel that this year due to the pandemic
The shop would normally have guest musicians playing, but have had to cancel that this year due to the pandemic

Vince added: "It's better than Christmas for us, it's a god send.

"It dropping in April was bad timing because of Covid, and having to delay it this long and the store being shut for three months - it's vital for us at this point."

But some store owners believe more could be done to capitalise on the younger crowd and move a little away from self-confessed collectors with vast sources of extra income.

Simon Tyler runs Creekside Vinyl on Market Street, Faversham .

This will be the first time the store has participated in Record Store Day, after opening the business in 2018.

Simon is excited for Record Store Day but also thinks record label should do more to make vinyl affordable to young people
Simon is excited for Record Store Day but also thinks record label should do more to make vinyl affordable to young people

Simon said: "I think sometimes that the pushing of special releases and pushing on making it exclusive and a collector's item - I think that slightly pushes away from a broader market approach.

"I'd like to see the record companies start to bring the prices down, I think that would encourage people to come in and buy more records.

"Bill Eilish is huge at the moment and the amount of 13-14 year-old kids who really love her stuff - they come in, look at the album which is about £24, and they can't afford it but they look at it and they're in awe of it.

"They're obviously streaming it but they like the idea of the physical thing they're actually holding and having a physical relationship with it, and I think if the record companies push the prices down by about £5 it then becomes more affordable to young people."

Simon is not expecting huge queues for his shop's first Record Store Day
Simon is not expecting huge queues for his shop's first Record Store Day

Simon is not expecting huge queues today but will be on hand prior to opening to keep any potential queueing customers abreast of what he has in stock.

He said: "I will be here quite early and we've got a list of the items in stock, so if there is a queue before opening I'll take the list and go down the queue and tell people what we've got."

Those with an interest in ska and Brazilian music will be looking to make it to Vintage & Vinyl on the Old High Street, Folkestone .

Business owner Alison Wressell has had customer queueing up from 3am in previous years.

This will be her sixth year taking part in Record Store Day.

She said: "I always advertise it a lot beforehand and ask my customers exactly what they want from the releases, because obviously there's 400-500 titles and I wouldn't order everything."

Alison hopes to see people camping outside her shop once again
Alison hopes to see people camping outside her shop once again

Alison is unsure if the queues will be as long as years past, but hopes vinyl lovers will still be out to enjoy the day.

She said: "It's all about the fun of the experience of the day, it creates a memory if you're sitting in your deck chair at half 3 in the morning wait for a shop to open - it's an event."

Meanwhile in Canterbury , music fans with a love for 80s and 90s alternative rock will be making their way to Vinylstore Jr in Castle Street.

Owner of the store Nick Pygott is excited to see the day finally go ahead, after a surprisingly bustling level of business since the lockdown eased in June.

He said: "It's going honestly better than it was before, and know if course we've got Record Store Day on our doorstep.

Nick opened his store after lockdown on June 19
Nick opened his store after lockdown on June 19

"Suddenly, having waited for six months, and it's been postponed twice, but it's finally here which is really exciting."

Whereas before the goal would be to stuff as many vinyl junkies into the shop as possible, this year Nick is having to strike a balance with keeping customers safe and socially distanced.

He said: "On one hand as a retailer you want to get people excited and be here early to get the first come first served stuff, but this year of course we're actually urging caution and saying 'don't all pile in at once'.

"Be sensible, be masked, queue in a socially distanced fashion.

"Your health is more important than records - sometimes it doesn't feel like it but it is!"

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More