In the world of the vinyl revival, we love nothing more than hearing stories of record shops thriving all over the UK. That’s why we were so excited when it was recently revealed that record shop openings in the UK are at 5 year high! With more than 20 new shops likely to have opened in the past 12 months, we thought it would be a great time to explore the top 5 teeniest tiniest musical havens that could in fact be hiding right on your doorstep.
In order to uncover these hidden treasure troves, we surveyed all 220 Record Store Day participating shops for their square footage and compiled the smallest results in descending order below. It may surprise you just how local your “local” indie might be…
5. Earworm Records
1 Powells Yard, Goodramgate, York, YO1 7LS
196 square foot.
“Every other person who seems to enter the shop is over 6ft, so a little caution is needed”
Kicking off the top 5 countdown is the home of Earworm Records, hidden away in the heart of York. Back in the days of the vinyl decline, owners Rich and Paul always dreamt of one day opening the doors to their own record shop. Fast forward a decade the dream soon became a reality. It took about 5 months to find a suitable location, get some stock together, and leave their current jobs and they opened the doors to Earworm in October 2013 and have never looked back!
It's not only the width and length dimensions that are small in Earworm, but the ceiling is also extremely low. The property that houses the shop was built sometime during the 16th Century when the human race was on average, a little smaller in height. Nowadays every other person who seems to enter the shop is over 6ft tall, so a little caution is needed so as not to knock your head on the lights.
Paul, at Earworm, said “We had a placement guy in from the local University who was 6ft 7", how he managed to not knock himself out in the 2 weeks he was here I'll never know. Also, in-store DJ gigs and live bands in the shop are a sight to see - luckily we have our own private courtyard which caters for over spills. Having a record shop slightly off the main street certainly has its advantages!”
4. People Records
14 Chapel Street, Guildford, GU1 3UL
165 square foot
“It means we don’t have room for any rubbish. Mean and keen!”
In at number 4, based in Guildford’s town centre, is the home of Howard Smith’s People Records. Setting up initially in 2009 as a CD-only establishment, People soon embraced the vinyl revival and now most of their stock comprises of new vinyl releases. When asked whether they’d consider expanding in the future, Howard simply says he’s happy with the space they have – “it means we don’t have room for any rubbish. Mean and keen!”. We like it.
3. The Record Shop
7 Shurdington Rd, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 0JB
100 square foot.
“It’s the quality of records, not quantity”
Blink and you’ll miss it – taking the third spot on the smallest record shop chart is ‘The Record Shop’ in Cheltenham standing in at a mere 100 square foot. Specialising in new and used vinyl, The Record Shop came into being in 2007 and has been run by Martyn Hooper and his family ever since. Talking of their size, Hooper said he was happy to be considered one of the smallest in the UK emphasising the quality of his records over quantity. Despite the limited size of this classic record shop, there is no limit on the types of music that they stock – even finding space to store cheap and cheerful records from just 10p a punt (yes 10p!).
It’s the customers at The Record Shop that also contribute to its quirky personality, some of which come from all over Europe to dig deep in this treasure trove. Perhaps their most renowned customer is a guy Martyn calls ‘Pepe’ who lent a certain Brian Jones a guitar, never to be returned, when he moved to London to start a band called The Rolling Stones…
Particularly well known for its eclectic Northern Soul selection, this little gem should not be overlooked.
2. Marrs Plectrum
387 Fulbridge Rd, Peterborough PE4 6SF
79 square foot.
“It’s not unusual on a Saturday to find myself pushed out the door to create room for customers”
In at number 2, no we promise it’s not a garden shed, it is in fact the establishment of Marrs Plectrum on Fulbridge Road in Peterborough. Situated at the back of owner Matt Hawton’s home, Marrs Plectrum is just 79 square foot with a wall to wall walking distance of approximately three paces. Yet what it lacks in space it makes up for in music as the shop stocks thousands of new and used records with all genres covered.
Matt Hawton, who opened Marrs Plectrum last year, said “It’s a curios privilege. In many ways, it’s not about the size of the shop, but the quality of stock. It’s not unusual on a Saturday to find myself pushed out the door to create room for customers but I consider that a good day. With particularly busy days such as Record Store Day we choose to host the event alfresco. My wife and I ran Record Store Day and a regular customer volunteered to run the shop. This conjured up images of Dick and Barry from High Fidelity, although he didn’t turn up again for work on Monday! That act of generosity, volunteering to support a small indie shop, sums up the charm and goodwill that a small shop can gain. He was of course paid in vinyl.”
And what we love most is, it’s quite appropriately, named after the tiniest man in the music industry too…
1. VOD Music
28 New Street, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 1NZ
67 square foot.
“I think our customers would actually be disappointed if we upsized!”
And if you thought it wasn’t possible to be any smaller than Marr’s Plectrum then you would be mistaken - taking the smallest record shop trophy is North Wales VOD Music measuring up at a miniscule 67 square foot. Tucked away on quiet streets of Mold, VOD is the humble home to new music as well as specialising in Prog Rock, Folk, Blues & Reggae collectables. Colin, owner of VOD since its establishment in 2004 said of taking the smallest record shop crown “It is quite an honour to be listed as the smallest in the UK and our customers are very protective of our status. We used to struggle with stock space but being well organised and having bespoke racking has made life a lot easier. We are very happy with the experience we’ve created and think our customers would actually be disappointed if we upsized!”
We would never want to see this little gem upsized but we would definitely be up for seeing some “in-stores” take place on the roof…
If you think there might be an even smaller record shop near you, send us in a picture using the hashtag #smallestrecordshop and we’ll take a look. Remember, you can also find your local record shop using our locator on our website here /participating-stores.aspx
The best things definitely do come in small packages.