Former Rough Trade founder Spencer Hickman keeps transmission records closed as lineups form elsewhere in Kent


Each year, Kent’s record stores participate in Record Store Day, an event that supports small independent retailers by getting music lovers to buy locally.Some merchants expect long lines – in previous years, avid collectors have even stood outside stores from 3 a.m. to snag one of the event’s limited vinyl releases.

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

But the man who brought Record Store Day to the UK 12 years ago is still not ready to open his store 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 massive Rough Trade record store in east London, brushing against influential artists from around the world.

The couple moved to the coast for a taste of the quieter life and decided to start a new business.

Their shop advertises itself as specializing in rare Japanese presses, soundtracks and post-punk vinyls.

Record Store Day founder Spencer Hickman will not be opening his Cliftonville store.  Photo: 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 stores, their doors will remain closed.

Spencer said, “This year is just an outlier when it comes to everything, so we don’t want people to come in line.

“The point of being a record store for me is that you browse the shelves, you chat with the people in the store, and you can’t really do that in our current climate.

“So for us it was just the right thing to do. ”

Usually, the limited presses available on record store day can only be purchased in-store, which encourages long lines and trips to your local vinyl specialist.

The founder described this year's event as
The founder described this year’s event as “tinged with sadness”

But due to the pandemic, stores are also allowed to put recordings online from 6 p.m. tonight.

Spencer said, “Because our store is so small, we don’t feel very comfortable being properly opened.

“They relaxed all the rules this year, so some stores are using an appointment system and others are just putting items at 6pm.

He joked: “Less transmission in transmission is always good! ”

Record Store Day was canceled in April due to the pandemic.

The event has been going on for 12 years
The event has been going on for 12 years

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

Despite its closure, Spencer still considers the national campaign to be 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 day that everyone makes the effort to go through, so it’s kinda sad it’s not like that this year, but I hope it comes back to that next year – cross fingers. “

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

Elsewhere in Kent, store owners are hoping the usual suspects will wait patiently outside the store, ready to hang on the new limited presses.

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

There’s not much to change in the store this year to keep Record Store Day more socially distant, as the family duo still limit premises to three customers per day anyway.

Vince said, “We’ve always insisted that the point of the day is to give our customers the recordings they want.

“Record Store Day can be a bit like a manger in the area where the exits are, so we’ll have one in the trough, one waiting for the trough, and another in the store. “

Huge queues have formed outside the Ashford record store in previous years
Huge queues have formed outside Ashford’s record store in previous years

They also prohibit customers from buying multiple copies of wanted presses.

Vince said: “We find it a bit criminal – they arrest who actually want the cases just so they can whip them up for a little more profit.

“Last year, a few hours after opening, people billed saying, ‘Robert Plant is online for £ 120, do you have any? “”

Business owners expect a longer queue this year due to the need to get away socially, but fewer people due to some customers staying away.

They are also hoping that the day can offer the same kind of peak profit that annual Record Store Day events usually offer.

The store normally hosted guest musicians, but had to cancel it this year due to the data pandemic
The shop would normally have guest musicians play, but had to cancel it this year due to the pandemic

Vince added, “It’s better than Christmas for us, it’s a gift from God.

“The drop in April was a bad time because of Covid, and having to delay it that long and the store closed for three months – that’s vital for us at this point. ”

But some store owners believe more could be done to capitalize on the younger customer base and move away from avowed collectors with vast sources of additional income.

Simon Tyler performs Creekside Vinyl on Market Street, Faversham.

It will be the first time that the store will participate in Record Store Day, after the company opened in 2018.

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

Simon said: “I sometimes think pushing special releases and wanting to make it an exclusive and collectable item – I think that takes a broader approach away from the market a little bit.

“I would like to see the record companies start lowering the prices, I think that would encourage people to come and buy more records.

“Bill Eilish is huge right now and the number of kids 13-14 who really like his stuff – they come in, watch the album which costs around £ 24, and they can’t afford it but they watch and they are afraid of it.

“They obviously put it out there, but they like the idea of ​​the physical item that they actually hold and have a physical relationship with, and I think if the record companies are dropping the prices by around £ 5, that then becomes more affordable for young people. “

Simon doesn't expect huge queues for his store's first Record Store Day
Simon doesn’t expect huge queues for his store’s first Record Store Day

Simon doesn’t expect huge queues today, but will be on hand before the opening to keep potential customers on hold updated on what he has in stock.

He said: “I’ll be here soon enough and we have a list of the items in stock, so if there’s a queue before opening, I’ll take the list and stand in line and tell people what. That we have. . ”

Those interested in ska and Brazilian music will be looking to visit Vintage & Vinyl on Old High Street, Folkestone.

Business owner Alison Wressell has lined up customers from 3 a.m. in previous years.

This will be his sixth year participating in Record Store Day.

She said, “I always advertise a lot in advance and ask my clients exactly what they want out of the releases, because obviously there are 400-500 titles and I wouldn’t order everything. “

Alison is hoping to see people camping out in front of her shop again
Alison is hoping to see people camping outside her store again

Alison isn’t sure if the lines will be as long as years gone by, but hopes vinyl fans are still out enjoying the day.

She said: “It’s all about the enjoyment of the day’s experience, it creates a memory if you sit in your lounge chair at 3:30 in the morning waiting for a store to open – that’s Event. ”

Meanwhile in Canterbury, music fans passionate about alternative rock from the ’80s and’ 90s will head to Vinylstore Jr in Castle Street.

Store owner Nick Pygott is excited to finally see the day unfold, after a surprisingly lively level of activity since the lockdown eased in June.

He said: “Honestly it’s going better than before, and of course we have Record Store Day on our doorstep.

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

“So after waiting six months, and it got postponed twice, but that’s finally what’s really exciting. ”

While before the goal would be to cram as many vinyl junkies into the store as possible, this year Nick must find a balance to keep customers safe and socially distant.

He said: “On the one hand, as a retailer you want to get people excited and be here early to get the products on a first come, first serve basis, but this year of course we are actually urging caution and saying ‘ do not pile up all at once ‘.

“Be sane, hide yourself, queue in a socially distant way.

“Your health is more important than the recordings – sometimes it isn’t, but it is! ”

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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