Thursday, 16 September 2021

New name and premises for record shop

A RECORD shop in Henley is moving to bigger premises and changing its name.

A RECORD shop in Henley is moving to bigger premises and changing its name.

Henley Records is relocating to a shop also in Reading Road but nearer the town centre and will be now called In The Groove.

Owner Andrew Tucker says the old premises was too small, which meant he had to keep much of his collection of 8,000 LPs, 3,000 singles and 5,000 CDs at his home in Berkshire Road, Henley.

Mr Tucker, 52, said: “The lease was coming to an end so I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to stay there or do something a bit different.

“I have been running out of space for a long time — I have accumulated a lot of stuff and couldn’t fit it in any more. There is a shed full of it, the loft is groaning and the landing is shuffle-past only — there will be a lot more room at home now.”

The new shop, which was previously Rugmark of Henley, is at least three times the size and Mr Tucker is planning to open a café there.

“I wanted to do something that I had seen in other record shops,” he said. “There will be tables, chairs and a sofa and stuff to relax with.

“What used to happen quite often was a couple would come into the shop and one would look at the records but because the other was stood around feeling like a spare part, they would feel rushed. Hopefully, this can now be solved. People can now look at records in a guilt-free manner.”

Mr Tucker said he might even have a little stage where bands could perform acoustic sets.

“I want to broaden my horizons and make the shop more of a destination rather than a location,” he said.

Mr Tucker, who is married to Belinda, a psychotherapist, took over Henley Records after losing his job in IT in London.

He had volunteered at an Oxfam record shop in Ealing for a year, which re-ignited his passion for music, and used part of his redundancy money to take over the business.

“I took over Henley Records when it was already up and running,” he said. “I thought it was a really boring name but I didn’t have the budget to rebrand it.”

His customers range from collectors to people looking for a particular record after missing it first time round and teenagers delving into music history.

He said: “I get plenty of people coming from The Henley College buying obscure old records and because of that they are quite well informed. They come in and buy some old blues or jazz from 50 years before they were born.

“There are still people interested in going out to buy stuff, whether it is a CD or record, but there aren’t enough people to do that to sustain something like HMV any more.

“I haven’t come across anybody who says they are really going to miss HMV. Nobody would go there and say ‘what a good place to be’.”

He has has noticed a growing interest in vinyl despite the huge popularity of music downloads.

“Downloading is very empty,” he said. “You miss out on forging the relationship with the artist that you like.”

Some famous visitors have included Pete Doherty of Babyshambles and former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read. A couple of months ago he sold an Elvis Presley 78 from 1960 for £600.

Mr Tucker said: “There are still people out there that want the older gear and long may it continue.”

A MUSICIAN and Henley Rugby Club player will be running the café at In The Groove.

Sam Wilkinson, 26, who plays drums and regularly performs at Magoos in Hart Street, is leasing the space off Mr Tucker with Henley Hawks’ captain Tom Allen.

Mr Wilkinson, of Western Avenue, has worked in the town as a waiter for 15 years. He said: “Andy asked me to do it. I was a customer at the old record shop and used to come in there with a coffee. Having the two together just seemed like a good idea and I think there is definitely a market for it.”

Mr Allen runs the Flying Bean Café, a mobile coffee van which Mr Wilkinson runs at Dry Leas when his business partner is on the pitch. “We both have experience in coffee,” Mr Wilkinson said.

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