15 Questions For… Chris McGranaghan
When did you open Those Old Records?
We opened in February 2010 but had been trading at record fairs for a few years before that. Those Old Records was launched in 2009.
What lead you to opening the shop?
Opening the shop was an accident, we went in to the shopping centre to buy something for dinner, seen an empty unit and 30 minutes later I had done a deal. We opened the following week and have expanded twice since then.
What genres do you specialise in?
We don’t really “specialise” in anything to be honest. The stock is very eclectic and ranges from Rock to Stockhausen. I don’t stock dance and try to stay clear of Northern Soul. You will find a lot of blues, folk, reggae, modern jazz, prog rock, psych, indie/punk, metal and more. We tend to concentrate upon albums rather than 7″ although we do have a wide selection in stock.
Do you feel positive about the music industry and records sales at present?
I’m very positive about vinyl sales, week on week the business seems to improve and we attract a younger customer base. The music business is a different thing altogether and I feel the bigger the organisation, the increased levels of bureaucracy negates any passion for the music. This isn’t tins of beans that are being sold, it is art and organisations do appear to employ people who either don’t appreciate it or really don’t care. I avoid large organisations. Buy local.
How do you feel about digital downloads?
Well I have nothing to do with any of it. If it makes you happy then fine. Everything co-exists now. People download tunes from YouTube/Spotify etc then comes to the shop to but the vinyl. I don’t have a problem with it but it isn’t for me.
At a guess, what is the demographic of customers coming to your store? Do you notice an increase in younger customers visiting your shop due the new popularity of vinyl?
Mainly male in an age range of 35/55. However, that is changing with younger buyers increasing and lots of female buyers which is great. I’m always amazed at the amount of knowledge that younger buyers have on bands that I have never heard of, keeps you on your toes.
What’s the most important thing that a good record shop can provide their customers (especially when compared to online shops or download platforms like iTunes)?
Good old fashioned personalised service, remembering your customers names, putting records aside that they might like. Communicating via website/Facebook/Texting etc. making them feel part of the business which indeed they are. I don’t feel threatened by online shopping in any way. Amazon have one of their large depots in Rugeley and a lot of their employees are my customers.
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking of opening a record store?
If you have to do it – do it! Keep overheads as low as possible. You don’t have to be on the high street. People who want records will find record shops. Some of my regulars come down from Manchester (85 miles away). Don’t pack it in after a few months, you have to build a reputation in this business. Try not to stock music that you don’t like, you can’t talk about it with any passion and it will show. You need to be passionate and slightly eccentric in this business.
What’s the one record that you know will always sell?
The Beatles – Revolver.
What is the first record you ever bought?
7″ – Clarence Carter – Patches. Album – Buffalo Springfield – Again
What is the one record on the shelf that makes you cringe every time you see it?
Generally a Northern Soul compilation, any of them..
What is the most annoying thing that customers continually ask you?
“How much do you pay for records?” – to which I respond “How much did you pay for your grocery shopping?”
What is the best thing about owning your own record store?
I can do what I want, play what I want, organise the place the way I want it and generally enjoy each day.
Obviously Those Old Records is your favourite record store, but do you have another? Why?
There was a record shop in Noe Valley, San Francisco that I went to many years ago. Forgotten the name but it was everything that a record shop should be. It was welcoming from the moment you entered, they offered me coffee, they were interested in my tastes without being pushy and they recommended some Gillian Welch to me. I hadn’t heard of her up to that point and I’m now one of her biggest fans. Great shop. Those Old Records is in some way modelled on that. These days I don’t get many opportunities to go to many shops but anywhere that makes you feel welcome, talks to you and is helpful. I don’t ask for anything else. Some of the shops in London could do with a reality check.
What record are you listening to at the moment?
Peter Parker’s Rock N Roll Club – “Straight To Vinyl” on the Those Old Records label. Essential.