About Vintage & Vinyl

Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open a record shop?

My first job while I was a teenager and still at school in the 80s was at Virgin Records in Durham. After school I'd walk into town to Virgin, take up the duster and hoover, clean the shop, make tea for the staff and get rid of all the empty boxes from the day's new stock. I loved it. I'd work there on a Saturday too and my overriding memory is of the lovely people who worked there (Andy, Andy, Andy, Chris, Dave and Gill), the punks who would gather in the shop with their impressive mohicans, and having to hoover around their big boots. A lot of time has gone since then and I've lived abroad in many different places, and mainly worked in marketing - however my love of music (and other arts and culture) has always been there. Over the last few years I was squirrelling money away for my project! And this is it - a return to music, real life and an opportunity to be my own boss. I longed to have my own shop and get away from the digital world that takes over when you're in an office job. What could be better than talking to passionate people, listening to records all day, having no one but yourself to answer to and making a living from it?
I love my shop - I'm 100 metres from the harbour and beach in Folkestone, and part of the Folkestone Creative Quarter. All of the independent shops in the street make for a wonderful friendly working community.

So when I was planning the shop I wanted to keep it bright and airy, colourful and fun.
I sell used and new records - all of our used records are deep cleaned and play tested.
As well as records I sell very lovely stylish Pro-Ject turntables and audio equipment, colourful gifts and fabulous sparkling and still wines, beer, ales and cider from Kent and Sussex as well as some gorgeous small batch gins - most of which have won awards in the international wine and spirits competitions. Having lived in France for a long time wine is another passion of mine - each bottle is individual and unlike any other - just like with music, each record is a package of joy.
I will stock any music that I like or I can see why others might like it - anything with musical merit. So you may walk in and there'll be jazz, ska, funk, soul, indie, prog, reggae, blues, rock...whatever the day demands, playing on the turntable.
My customers span a whole spectrum from teenagers just getting into records to those who never stopped playing them, and others who are reinventing their collections. A mix of men and women who love their music - and their wine!
Being near the main UK ports we get a lot of foreign visitors too - from a Russian who comes to the shop every couple of months especially for the Durham Gin, to Australians who ask me to ship records back home for them.

I think one of the first record shops I went in was on holiday in Christchurch or Poole in Dorset in the 70s. I was only about 5 or 6 and I chose an album called Top of the Tots because it had a song called Popcorn on it that I liked. It also had Good Morning Starshine, Knock Three Times and Michelle - so not a terrible choice for a 6 year old. I remember coming out of the shop into the warmth of the southern sun (being from the north east this was a lovely feeling) and holding my record - being so pleased with it.
As a teenager I was so lucky to grow up in Durham - a university town with a collegiate system and a students union - therefore multiple opportunities for live music within walking distance of home. As well being only a very short train ride to Newcastle! Newcastle City Hall and The Riverside were great venues. I loved going to concerts and hanging out in Virgin which eventually led to my job there. Everything I earned from cleaning the shop was spent on my next LP.
Being a kid in the 70s a teenager in the 80s and living abroad in the 90s has definitely influenced my taste. My dad would play jazz at home and my mum was a fan of Elvis, and Neil Diamond. My brother was into Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and I would listen to John Peel, and everything from The Velvet Underground, Bowie, Lou Reed, early Pink Floyd to Prefab Sprout and The Waterboys.

Local famous people who pop in now and again include Vic Reeves, Andy Cousin from All about Eve, the actor Mark Benton has also been in, along with various bands on tour such as Neil Hannon and Tosh from The Divine Comedy. There's a recording studio around the corner so I often get visits from the bands who are recording there. I've also had famous writers in the shop, as well as the Eurovision commentator from Iceland - their Graham Norton equivalent, and the "Alan Dedicoat" of Germany - along with his sons who told me he was known as "the voice of Germany" and rolled their eyes. A lot of interesting people pass through which I love!
People love to chat and I do get some very personal and interesting stories which are never repeated!

Bowie in the 80s in Sunderland. It was a great outdoors show in summer - I was very lucky to see him live.
I saw Pulp in Paris during the big public transport strike that went on for weeks - there were no metros or busses, We had no choice but to trudge for miles through the snow and slush to get there, only for there to be an unfortunate power cut in the area. Jarvis Cocker was brilliant - he couldn't have been more gracious about the efforts everyone had made just to get to the gig and then wait in the freezing cold and the dark for the power to come back on! He gave a great show.
And then there was Beck and Cornershop and Radiohead and Oasis....The Verve (all in Paris too), The Divine Comedy, Elvis Costello, Suede, The Undertones...Prefab Sprout all great gigs.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern. It is a magical book creating beautiful images that stick in your mind.
Also books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - he writes very beautifully. His use of language is inspiring; he is able to create his world and the atmosphere within it extremely vividly, with great detail but completely unlaboured.

I can't decide....Maybe Shallow Grave or Serial Lover - an amusing French dark comedy. Or The Big Blue - a Luc Besson Film (Le Grand Bleu) or Betty Blue - an atmospheric French film with a score by Gabriel Yared - all great films. Or maybe Wickerman - depending on my mood.

That's very difficult as anything would drive you mad after a while, but let's say....
Temptation - New Order
Lou Reed - Satellite of Love
Appetite / Bonny - Prefab Sprout

Hmm it's hard to narrow it down but lets say...Marvin Gaye, Canned Heat, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Lou Reed, Talking Heads, Bob Marley, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Prefab Sprout, The Blue Nile, Deep Purple, The Beat, The Clash, New Order, The Smiths, The Specials, Elvis, Fleetwood Mac, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, The Jam, The Waterboys, Archie Bell and the Drells.
There are loads more I'd like to see, but all of the above would give a good show.

It's hard to pick one but maybe Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen
This is one of the most beautiful albums ever made. For me words are very important and I love intelligent poetic songs with a clever use of language.

I have been adding to the website so that presales and turntables are available to buy online. Practically speaking, in the shop, we have hand sanitiser, masks, limited numbers inside at any one time and bookable slots on request. Customers can also ask me to do the browsing for them if they don’t want to touch anything.

I love receiving all of the stock and seeing everything for the first time - the great packaging, the colourful covers, the fun picture discs. Then, I love approaching the shop from the harbour at the bottom of the hill and seeing if there is a queue - who is in it and if it is longer that the previous year! We always take a “queue picture” with the sunlight slanting down the narrow cobbled street. There is a lot of camaraderie around Record Store Day. I always do my best to get the titles that people have requested - and I like seeing people happy with their haul of records. Even when they are too late to get the last copy of something they really wanted, everyone is always so magnanimous.