About Casbah Records
Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open a record shop?
I've always had the dream of wanting my own record shop ever since I started dealing in records which was around the early 80's. Back then there were loads of shops everywhere so the chances of actually finding a suitable location without any competition was pretty remote. I started buying from boot sales and other dealers in about 1985 and got myself a stall at Greenwich market to sell the records I'd found. Even on the market there were lots of other dealers so you had to learn fast! Myself and a mate stuck at it and eventually we became the biggest stall there. By the mid 90's I was trying to move up to the next level and got an inside unit in Greenwich and then by 2000 we even tried a mobile shop in an old converted bus which we drove around to all the festivals. For various reasons none of these projects really worked out and by 2005 with the decline in cd and music sales we started to struggle. However, by a stroke of luck a few years later a friend of ours owned the lease to a shop in Greenwich and decided to move out and let us move in, by now I was being helped out by my brother Tony.
We took over 320-322 Creek road in 2008 and haven't looked back since. The upsurge of interest in vinyl has been the key factor to our success and profits are increasing year on year.
The best thing about owning your own shop is the independence it gives you. You are master of your own destiny so to speak and it's always exciting to think of new ideas and schemes to help promote the shop. You never know what's going to come through the door on any given day, an amazing record collection, a film crew, a famous band. I always look forward to getting all the new releases in on Friday and presenting them to the public in a hopefully tempting manor. I also love the feedback from our customers, especially the younger ones who seem really grateful they have somewhere near them to buy the latest releases.
We're not that big, but we're crammed full with interesting and exciting stuff. New and vintage vinyl, books, DVD's, tapes, (new and old) comics and we design our own range of t-shirts, tote bags and badges. We're pretty busy most of the time, though Fridays and the weekdays are the busiest. We get a lot of students from Greenwich university, Goldsmiths and Trinity college plus lots of tourists and a fair number of locals. I like to have plenty of youngsters working in the shop as that creates a nice and energetic vibe. Apart from myself and Tony we have quite a few girls working for us during the week and at the weekend mainly from Goldsmiths who help out serving and beavering away on laptops doing all that social media stuff.
We've a top ten customer list like most shops probably do who keep us going by buying every week. We couldn't do without them and they're all known by various descriptive titles such as Steve the cabbie, Jason Soul man, Richard the mod, geezer Paul, metal Mick, the £50 girl etc.
The one time I've collapsed with laughter was when I was showing one of our sales assistants, Claudia where various artists should be placed in what sections etc. When it came to a solo album from an ex member of the German 70's band Can she asked where was he from? I said he's from Can. What in France came the reply! Still makes me laugh just thinking about it now!
I must admit I don't go in too many other shops these days, only to see how other people do things and see if I can borrow some ideas. My favourites were the ones I've already mentioned sadly no more. Others that stick in the mind were Oven Ready (they had a big oven behind the counter) in Aylesbury, Reply in Bristol, Soho market records, (now part of Chinatown), Rough Trade off Portobello Road. I enjoy going to Crusin Records in Welling, Kent. Always find a bargain and the Boiler Room down in Poole in Dorset, again always a bargain to be had.
We've had a few famous customers over the years, Bobby from Primal Scream, Glenn Tillbrook from Squeeze, Vic Reeves and his Mrs, Danny Baker's a mate and comes in from time to time, the last visit was with a film crew for the BBC. We've had members from the Temples, Foals, King Gizzard, Lenny Henry's been in a few times. Tess Parks who sings with the Brian Jonestown Massacre has worked behind the counter on many occasions. We recreated a 60's film shoot that Rolling Stone magazine did with one of the G.T. O’s for our Christmas card with Tess. (you can find that on our Facebook page around the December period). Jean Michell Jarre did a film shoot in the shop as well and stood behind our counter for a while. We always get bands in to play on RSD even though there's no room. Tess did it last time and you couldn't move in there, it was rammed!
Probably my first which was Linda Lewis at the Royal Festival Hall in 1975. I was so excited and a little bit in love with her.
Either 'The Collector' by John Fowles or 'The Final Programme' by Michael Moorcock
Tricky! either the Ipcress File or Casablanca depending on what mood I'm in. I also love 'A Clockwork Orange’
Maggie May by Rod, Father and Son by Cat Stevens and Jumpin Jack Flash, the Stones
Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, The Beatles (1969 era), Bowie, Pink Floyd (circa 1973), Cat Stevens, Linda Lewis, Scott Walker, (circa 1969), Fairport Convention (circa 1969) and Mott The Hoople. Now; The Rails, the Stones again, Du Blonde, Trembling Bells, Bebel Gilberto, Palehound, The Dum Dum girls, La Sera, the Pixies now!
'Tea For The Tillerman' by Cat Stevens