Northampton record shop owner Alex ready to celebrate Spiral Archive’s 20th anniversary

Alex Novak
Alex Novak

Independent record shop Spiral Archive is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.

With a clientele ranging from local regulars to record store owners who visit from across Europe and Japan, in its two decades of existence owner Alex Novak has ensured Spiral Archive is firm favourite for anyone looking to dig through crates after that illusive 12” to add to their collection.

“When I initially started Spiral Archive, it was an idea I thought I’d just run with to see how it went. 20 years later I’m still here,” explains Novak. “I’m surviving,” he jokes.

Based in St Michael’s Road, Spiral Archive stocks a mixture of second hand vinyl, CDs and DVDs as well as music by county acts.

“One of the most important things is having somewhere with reasonable rent and keeping overheads as low as possible,” explains Novak.

“I’ve been offered other places in the town centre which would have been very nice but I’d only survive six months because of the rent and rates.”

Spiral Archive has spent the last 10 years in St Michael’s Road, but has occupied a number of sites across Northampton.

It began life in a unit in Wellington Street, opposite the former Marks and Spencer building.

Novak admits the shop was far too small, joking he would have been “entombed” with records if he had stayed there.

From there, Spiral Archive moved to former The Emporium opposite The Black Prince before relocating to The Fishmarket – which was later demolished to make way for the current bus terminal.

Novak, who also DJs, is a gig promoter and plays in Venus Fly Trap, said: “The Fishmarket was a really interesting location which I don’t think ever properly achieved its potential.

“It was an art gallery with shops and a café in and there were occasionally bands playing there but ultimately I don’t think there was enough going on all year to fill up the space.

“From there, I came here to St Michael’s Road which is a good spot and I’ve been here nearly 10 years.”

As well as buying collections from people to sell, Novak also has regular record buyers visit from across the world.

“I sell a lot to foreign dealers,” he explains. “I have a guy who comes over from Japan each year and a couple from Poland and Holland who help keep the wheels turning.

“They come over because they know they can get a bit of a premium when taking records back over.

“When I started in 1999, it was probably the low point for vinyl. I knew if I could survive that I'd be OK.

“A lot of new releases on vinyl are quite limited so it’s kind of catering for the fans and collector market straight away.”

To help mark the 20th anniversary, Spiral Archive will be holding a half price sale on Saturday, August 24, from 11am to 4pm before Novak and guest DJs head to the nearby Charles Bradlaugh from 10m to 3am to celebrate with a night of music. Admission is free.

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