Christmas shopping: Iconic Northampton record store reveals secret behind 21-year success and the 'desirability' of vinyl
"A 12" record sleeve is like a piece of art, a lot of people put them up on their walls. There's a desirability about them."
An iconic Northampton record store which has been in business for more than two decades is calling on residents to support the High Street this Christmas.
In the run up to Christmas, the Chronicle and Echo is celebrating and promoting the best of local businesses in a bid to get more people out shopping locally.
The second shop in our coverage is Spun Out record store in Gold Street, which is owned by Chris Kent and has been in business for 21 years now.
Chris said: "We started in 2000. We realised there was nothing on the street for young people's interest, so we started up as a clothing and record shop to have a local focus point for that sort of thing.
"From that point onwards, the record side of it really grew and grew and is still growing. So that became our main focus. We still do clothes but we became more and more a record shop.
"We stock every musical genre, from very well known artists to very underground music, many on vinyl but we have CDs too.
"We're hopefully an extra little bow on Northampton's interesting and unique spaces."
Talking about how business is going and the shop's secrets of success over the years, Chris puts it down to having a 'personal touch'.
He said: "It's mainly about having a good customer base who want to come and check out what we have in person - record shopping is something to do in person.
"We do a few extra things in the shop like playing customers records they are interested in. I've got quite a lot of knowledge, too, so I can recommend stuff to people.
"It's pretty vital, I would say. A lot of people come in to pick up some records but they do like having a chat with someone about music. To some degree they enjoy chatting to me, and, actually, that's part of the reason it's a destination, the personal touches go a long way.
"Quite honestly, I don't see how a record shop can function without that personal touch. We wouldn't have that strong customer relationship we have without it."
Chris spoke openly and honestly about his passion for the shop, which has become a 'big, big part' of his life over the last two decades.
"I put my heart and soul into this. I work 80 hours a week keeping on top of it all. It's a big, big part of my life. The customers, a lot of them, are more like mates now because they have been coming for years," he said.
"It's a very close-knit thing between us and our customers. I am just chuffed we have got so much support still after all these years.
"We do put in the extra miles every week. We always get the big new releases on vinyl. I will order things in for people. I am really hot in getting the underground stuff as well as the more obvious stuff. A lot of record shops just go for the safe bets.
"A lot of people don't go that extra distance, to have something that's off the beaten track.
"Every week I am trying my best to have all these choices. I try and cover a great deal of different styles of music."
When asked what is so special about vinyl, Chris said they are like 'pieces of art' and have a certain 'desirability' about them.
"It's a personal preference, vinyl. It's more tactile. It feels more substantial. It sounds more warmer. The sound quality is better. It makes it sound like the artist is in your room, it has that naturality that CDs don't have," he said.
"CDs aren't the same. A 12" record sleeve is like a piece of art, a lot of people put them up on their walls. There's a desirability about them. They are collectables, rarer items. There's a potential for them to go up in value as well."
In a final message and push for Christmas trade, Chris firstly thanked his existing customers and urged new customers to support the High Street.
He said: "The main thing is, we are so grateful for all the support we have had over the years and we hope more and more people will find us physically and online - it all helps.
"It helps keep something that is localised and interesting on the streets of Northampton. Hopefully we're here for the future.
"Come here for the experience, get out and enjoy somewhere a little bit different within easy reach. Get out, support the High Street and hopefully find an interesting and welcoming venue."