15 Questions For… Rob Litchfield
When did you open Pie & Vinyl?
We opened on the 6th April 2012, just in time for Record Store Day
Records and pies are a fantastic combination. What led you to open a record store that sells food as well?
We both had life long aspirations to open a record shop, but we knew it simply wouldn’t work on its own. My business partner Steve had the idea of incorporating Pie & Mash into the shop, and that original nucleus of an idea has grown into what it is today.
Are people coming in more to relax, eat and occasionally buy a record or is it the other way around?
Very much both. We have the purists who go head first into the record room, and also the people who are there to enjoy the experience that we offer. They order food, have a look at the records and then come back to the table for their pie (hopefully with a handful of records in hand!)
What genres do you specialise in?
We don’t. We didn’t want to pigeon hole our records, so they are listed in A-Z. Hopefully our customers will then discover something they wouldn’t normally find.
Do you feel positive about the music industry and records sales at present?
Very positive. Sales of vinyl have gone up every year for the past 5 years, so that can only be a good thing.
How do you feel about digital downloads?
There is as much a place for them in the industry as there is a place for vinyl. The resurgance of vinyl would not have happened if the music industry had not decided to work with the digital age, not against it. 95% of vinyl we sell comes with either a digital download or a cd, so you are effectively getting 2 formats for the price of one.
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?
Vinyl was alway popular, but we have seen the younger generation becoming much more interested in vinyl. As well as being the most superior format to listen to music, and the way the artist intended you to hear it, it is also a very fashionable thing at the moment to listen to vinyl. But we also have the elder generation come in to enjoy the decor of the shop and the traditional pie & mash that they would have experienced as children.
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)?
Quite simply, an experience. We have a policy at Pie & Vinyl that every single person who comes in will leave with an experience that they won’t forget. We are (to my knowledge), the only Pie & Mash/Record shop in the world, so it’s important that people such an experience that inspires them to spread the word. That is the best advertising you can get.
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking of opening a record store?
Do your homework. Be different to everyone else and offer an experience rather than a product.
What’s the one record that you know will always sell?
The two XX albums, as soon as they are in they go out. And the new Daft Punk album flew out.
What is the first record you ever bought?
“Master of Puppets” by Metallica.
What is the one record on the shelf that makes you cringe every time you see it?
Well, we’d like to think we only stock good music, although I’d like to get rid of the Adele record some time soon.
What is the most annoying thing that customers continually ask you?
Some people don’t realise that we are a record shop (it’s in the name!), so they often ask if the records are for sale.
Obviously Pie & Vinyl is your favourite record store, but do you have another? Why?
Rise in Bristol is a great shop, and Resident in Brighton have a great selection.
What record are you listening to at the moment?
The National’s new record, Kishi Bashi’s 151a and an amazing band called Deaf Club. They’re going to be huge…..