Indie-Rock Pioneers Plan To Remain In The Roughest Trade Of Them All

roughtrade.jpgIf we’ve learned anything from the past six months–a period in which Tower Records went belly-up and CD sales continued to pratfall–is that this is a terrible time to be a record-store owner. Which is why it was so surprising to read that Rough Trade Records is planning to open a new music-retail space in London this summer:

Set to open its doors to the public in the next two months, the store will occupy 5,000 sq ft of floorspace, sell CDs and vinyl, and be used as a venue for gigs. It will open near Brick Lane in the East End in the summer and, according to those behind the project, the megastore will “reflect the public appetite for exciting new music”.

Stephen Godfroy, a director of Rough Trade music stores, said he could not confirm any specifics surrounding the opening of the new store, but said: “We are looking to make an official announcement in the next few weeks. Our aim is to deliver something we feel has been missing in this country for far too long – an environment that celebrates music as an exciting art form, not just another commercial commodity – but on a scale that is a departure from the traditional perception of an independent record shop.”

Rough Trade, of course, famously started out as an indie-store in the mid-’70s, so at the very least they’ve got our sentimental vote of support. But a new music-retail venture these days seems like a risky proposition, especially in the U.K., where big chains like HMV and Music Zone are suffering. Maybe the company can increase the store’s chances of success by getting some of its more famous alumni to work the floor; we’d love to see Morrissey try to calculate the VAT rates in his head.

Rough Trade opens massive record shop to fight internet [The Independent]

  • brasstax

    The only way this will work is if they just amplify the feel of a tiny indie record shop, a chatty friendy place where you can bullshit with the clerks about Beefheart and Factory Records album covers while being able to browse row after row of stock that just couldn’t be accomodated in a smaller place. People might even travel solely to shop there.

    But if they just end up selling whatever everyone else is selling hoping that the credibility of the “Rough Trade” name will keep them in the red, it’s gonna be a long, hard road ahead.

  • Ned Raggett

    The guess I heard elsewhere is that they’re trying for an Amoeba model, and while I’m not familiar enough with the city’s various stores to get a good sense of if that would work, it’s not an unreasonable proposition.

  • catdirt

    yeah- this makes perfect sense to me. real record stores are multiplying, not contracting here in san diego- i think probably because their over head is negligble and the internet is increasing sales of “rare” vinyl…

    remember- if the velocity of transactions increases, that increases demand- think about ebay in that regards when you consider record stores/on line sales…

  • chocomel

    “Rough Trade, of course, famously started out as an indie-store in the mid-’70s…”

    …and here I thought they were famous for screwing over a ton of small labels and bands when their original label went bankrupt in ’91.

    Eh, maybe they will give Galaxie 500 a few gift certificates for the new shop, you know, a ‘no hard feelings, mate’ kind of deal.

  • mike a

    My understanding is that the store and the label are fairly separate businesses.

    Completely separate businesses. According to the Rob Young book, Geoff Travis sold off the shop to its employees as early as 1982. To make matters even more confusing, the US office (and SF shop) acted as separate entities, too. You practically need to be a CPA to keep track of all this.

  • Matos W.K.

    My understanding is that the store and the label are fairly separate businesses. The recent Rob Young book on RT tells the story in more detail.

    This doesn’t seem like an unreasonable proposition to me, actually, if only because I live in Seattle, where indie music retail seems to be thriving right now. The Lower Queen Anne Tower Records space was taken over by Silver Platters and very little about it is different from the way it was before. And Sonic Boom and Easy Street seem to be doing well also–S.B. just recently expanded its Fremont location.