Mansfield music lovers get back into the groove as vinyl sales surge
For people of a certain age, a trip to the record shop was a weekend ritual enjoyed by millions as they browsed among the rows of LPs hunting for some vinyl treasure or other.
Then came CDs and afterwards download which consigned the old 12-inch format – and record shops – to the bargain bin of history.
But now, in a world where everything is digital and out in “the cloud”, it seems the world of music is rewinding.
Sales of vinyl in 2016 reached a 25-year high and in December outstripped digital downloads in revenue.
More than 3.2 million LPs were sold in the UK last year, a rise of 53 per cent on the previous year and the highest since 1991.
And now it is not just ageing dads with hi-fis and beardy hipsters getting into old-school grooves.
Mansfield music lover and businessman Richard Vickerstaff and wife Jo opened Mansfield’s first independent record shop in 20 years, the Vinyl Lounge, in June last year and it has proved to be a sound move.
Crossing the threshold of the Vinyl Lounge, on Regent Street, is like entering a time warp, where the sound of Don Henley wafts through the aroma of freshly ground coffee.
And you realise how much you have missed thumbing through music at a leisurely pace, discovering old gems and new stuff in pristine shrink-wrapped covers.
Racks of surprisingly brand new pressings are in plentiful supply at an average of £18.
There is a £1 bargain bin of used records and a more esoteric section, where original and rare 12-inchers can be found.
Richard, aged 51, says: “I have always been a vinyl fan.
“When people say it has come back, to a lot of people it was always there – it was bubbling under the surface.
“Music has always been a big passion of mine – this is not so much of a job, but a hobby I got involved with.
“I’m old enough to remember when Mansfield did have independent record shops like Sid Booths, Vinyl Mania and Trax.”
Mansfield has not had an independent record shop for about 20 years.
Richard has run bars and a nightclub in Manchester.
His family owned Vickerstaff’s card shops in Mansfield.
He says: “I was born in Mansfield and it’s nice to put something back into the town and to see if the market is still there.”
Richard says the vinyl scene has exploded, particularly over the last year.
He says: “There’s a general consensus that vinyl sounds better– it always has done.
“It’s a warmer and richer analogue sound – CDs and mp3s compress everything.
“Then also you have the physicality of it – artwork, sleeve notes, it’s all part of the experience of listening which is totally different than just pressing a button in your iPhone and listening to a track.
“It’s more of an event to go home, stick it on a turntable and look at the sleeve and be a part of it.
And this vinyl revival is boosting both old and new music, as record companies scenting a dollar get more involved.
More new bands and artists are being released on vinyl, while there is a strong back catalogue which all the record companies are re-issuing.
Richard says: “The hardest part for us is what to pick, rather than not being able to get stuff.
“It’s interesting that in December vinyl outsold CD and download formats to become the most popular.
“It’s appealing to a whole new market and a whole new generation is getting involved in vinyl, from late teens to early 20s.
“We’ve noticed this since Christmas when you would expect it to be quiet.
“They will have got a new turntable for Christmas .
“For them, it’s nice to have something to own – with mp3s you are just buying air.”
In my day you had to have a proper record deck which was a badge of honour.
Now it is like back to the old days of the 1960s Dansette record player, with all-in-one units selling, rather than record decks which plug into a hi-fi system.
Richard says: “For £100 you can buy a player and get involved straight away.”
Customer Lee Birkin, aged 47, was inspecting his latest acquisition – David Bowie’s Legacy album.
He says: “It is more about nostalgia for me I have hit that age.
“We were brought up on vinyl – my wife threw a lot of mine out years ago, but we’ve got back into it and I started going into charity shops buying a lot of old stuff I had lost.
“I like how you can get the download codes now, so you can get it digitally as well.
“It’s something to have and hold.”
Richard has a huge range of albums on sale.
He says: “We have stuff from £1 to first pressing of The Who’s My Generation for £300.
“A new album will typically cost between £10-30, with box sets more expensive.
He says the best sellers are classic rock, indie and Britpop, while Northern Soul is also popular in the Mansfield area.
And new releases by artists like Ed Sheeran sell well.
Richard says: “We sell new and used vinyl – it allows people to look if they want a certain pressing of an older one
“We’re always looking for records. People who may have a pile of it in their loft or garage can bring it in and get cash for it.”