You never know what you will take for granted. I have a terrible pet peeve about record shops. You have to have a playing table and headset that is not trashed available if you sell used vinyl. Why can’t people respect equipment? Bring back the days of a listening booth or serious listening tables. So much disappeared in the late 1980s when CDs became the preferred mode of recorded transport for your tunes, prior to iPods, and ancient ritual of the record store was phased out, the Listening Booth. I say bring it back. People will flock you your store if they see you are serious about providing the space, even if it’s stuffed in the corner. Make it appealing. Make no mistake, people are going back to vinyl and music store experiences, downloading is convenient, but shops are tactile and Nana is taking the kids to the record shop.
This magical listening place was where you could take the records you wanted to purchase and listen to them before buying. Some stores had the playing version, and gave you the sealed version. Others let you listen to the one you were buying to make sure it was pressed correctly before you left the shop. It was a ritual, a small cell like in a confessional box and you could listen to them. But with the CD explosion at the end of the 1980s, and the medium being near perfect out of the case, and many people with portable players, less people were buying vinyl, and many of these banks of booths disappeared.
I have been lamenting the loss in these last few years of such a beautiful, claustrophobic cubicle, of sound. A place to set out all the records you want to buy. Since we have gone from just buying new vinyl to buying old and rare editions, it is essential to have a good place to listen for any damage, because you can’t bring it back.
Most large record shops had at lease one or two rows of these booths at the back of the shop. They were very common in larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris. Nowadays, you have a small setup near the record counter with a player that is usually falling apart and filthy records and no cleaning supplies. I recommend brining your own record cleaning tools when you go shopping. I find it very sad that most of the record shops have very poor equipment for you to listen with, but I supposed you can’t blame them. Back in the day, people knew how to respect vinyl and treat it well. These days people do not seem to respect equipment. They treat it like a toy.
What’s the answer? Set up your record shop with at the very least two working turntables, if not four. People will not want to wait in queue to check their records and may leave some records behind. I have seen this happen. If one breaks down, you have the others. Even a wee stool would make people happy. Bring back the listening experience in the store, you will get repeat customers if you do.
Now and places with good listening booths or tables to try before buy? There are a few around. Do you have one in your town? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.
Phonic Records in London, England has a row of good turntables and headsets.
Public Possession, Munich Germany has rows of turntables to listen on
Rush Hour Amsterdam Clean well lit place for vinyl and CDs, quality listening turntables and headsets
Creekside Vinyl in Creekside Vinyl 1a Monks Granary Standard Quay FavershamKent ME13 7BS Record cleaning services, listening area with good tables and headphones. New and used, all records graded.
Rough Trade New York New store with booths. Newer vinyl and CDs, won’t find used here. But great space.
Rough Trade London East London location, good selection new, used, listening space.
Love Music, Glasgow 34 Dundas Street, Glasgow, United Kingdom G1 2AQ
Worlds Best Record Shops rated
Best Record Stores on the West Coast
Best Record Stores in the UK