Assai Records in Dundee moved to new larger premises in the summer of 2019 and we had big plans for 2020, with more instores, events and Assai Recordings releases while our Edinburgh store was gearing up for its 4th Record Store Day in April. But the world changed and we had to adapt very quickly. The incredible support we have had from our customers, record labels, ERA and the government means we have managed to keep trading via other means.
Early March, we started planning for COVID-19 but didn’t predict how quickly the world would change, we went from 17 staff to 5 almost overnight, we closed the shops the Saturday just before the restrictions were imposed: the shopping atmosphere had changed and it didn’t feel right to stay open. We had phenomenal support from our customers in that last week of trading and also once we adapted to an online only business (fortunately we have 16 years of online trading experience and the infrastructure was there to cope with an increased demand) . While we had systems in place, mentally it was tough and very challenging – questioning if we were an “essential business”, even though the Government stated online businesses could continue, not to mention the concern for staff and my family.
By mid-April it felt like we were keeping the nation entertained during lockdown, with vinyl and CD’s being sent all over the country, with the owner Keith doing many local deliveries and the Royal Mail doing a wonderful job ensuring vinyl arrived safely.
The new album by The Strokes was released in April and it already looks like a contender for our “album of the year”, it certainly has got us through some tough days. Dua Lipa, The Chats, and the Orville Peck limited edition orange vinyl all have gone down well with our customers.
Our very own The Swiss Family Orbison & stmartiins releases kept us entertained with new their releases on Assai recording, seeing them enter the Official Record Store Charts and Scottish Album Charts gave us a real buzz!
We are looking forward to the shops re-opening and welcoming back all our shop colleagues and customers, in the meantime we are continuing to work on innovative ideas to support and promote new music.