Where we started…
Resident was a dream. A wine-infused meandering chat about the future. A desire to escape from the corporate world and slaving for someone else. An opportunity to build something we could be proud of. A way for two ambitious workaholics to put their energy into something worthwhile, in the only world they really knew and understood – the world of music.
Resident became a reality through years of meticulous planning, hard graft, selling belongings, friends and family donating time and skills, financial bravery, pulling in favours, a lot of cleaning products, a modest business plan, a sympathetic Bank Manager (yep, it’s true!) a bit of luck and sheer bloody-minded determination and now, it’s kept alive by a damn fine team of fellow Residents. This is what got us here and it’s what will hopefully get us through this mess too.
What we’ve become…
We’ve built up relationships. We’ve asked nicely. We’ve paid bills on time. We’ve recruited smartly. We’ve been generous. We’ve been prudent. We’ve been understanding. We’ve pushed hard. We’ve gone out of our way. We’ve been supportive. We’ve looked for opportunities. We’ve taken risks.
We’ve done alright.
Sure, we’ve fallen out with a few people, pushed our luck a bit and cocked some things up on the way too. It’s been a learning process. But we have learned. And listened. And tried. And developed. And we continue to do all of these things.
We love nothing more than discovering, listening to, promoting and talking about new music. We push pre-orders and new releases instore and online. We co-founded an alliance of 25 independent UK record shops known as Dinked, to promote limited exclusive pressings of albums we love and want to give more profile to. We curate our end of year campaign and produce The Resident Annual – a 100+ page summary of the albums we’ve held dearest across the year – collectively and individually, as we often don’t agree! We usually throw a massive Record Store Day party and have one of the biggest events in the country. We host countless instores and outstore events to support album campaigns. We have a monthly DJ night in one of our fave local pubs.
We must be doing something right as we’ve grown bigger and bigger. In profile. In confidence. Around the waists. And physically, as a shop – we doubled in size 5 years ago. We’ve also won the Music Week Award for Best Independent Retailer 4 times. Without even bribing anyone. So we must be doing ok.
When Covid-19 hit…
At first, we feared it might be game over for us. It all felt pretty damn terrifying. Most days it still does.
Everyone’s essential is different, right? Running, cycling, reading, baking, painting, sewing, walking, shopping, cinema, knitting, yoga, swimming – we all lose ourselves (or find ourselves) in different ways.
For us Residents, and for many of you, our essential, our staple, our guiding light is Music.
Listening to it. Making it. Watching it live. Dancing to it. Singing to it. Talking about it. Reading about it.
Working in it.
It’s in our blood. It’s our everything. It’s what unites us in a world we often struggle to make any sense of, or find any place in as individuals. It’s brought us unlikely bunch of potential no-hopers together to create a really special place for us and for those we serve.
So, when we were told that all “non-essential” shops were to shut their doors, it took some of us a while to process that this meant us. Once it sunk in, we had to then work out how we adapt a business - that until this point was still 70% over the counter - to cope with having no footfall at all. None of our usual friendly faces wandering in to find out what Seb is gushing about this week, what obscurity Dan will brag about having discovered, what Ian has been nodding his head to, what noise Jon has addled his brain with or to hear Buddy’s mad giggle emanate from the basement.
I think we always knew that at some point we might see a downturn in record sales (temporary or permanent) and that we would need to adapt - changing buying habits, Brexit, manufacturing issues, economic struggles – these were all potential future threats. We had them in our mind. We were semi-prepared for them. They would affect us gradually. We would change things up accordingly.
Of course, we hadn’t expected the whole world to be turned upside down or for our little place in the world to be turned upside down over night. It’s taken some adjustment. Some of us have embraced the challenge. Some of us have struggled with it. Most of us waver between the 2 depending on the kind of day we are having - but we’re finding our way through it. Together. And apart of course.
Where we are now…
Some Residents are furloughed and are hopefully busy bettering themselves, getting ripped and learning new languages. Some are working from home, having too many snack breaks and badgering those in the shop for information by text and email. Some are working distanced in the shop, suffering from vicious cardboard mailer cuts, torturing each other with their music choices and being badgered by those working from home. The home Residents are ordering the records and telling people about them. The shop Residents are taking in the deliveries and packing the records up as fast as possible to get them out to the stay at homers desperate for new tunes.
Over the years, we’ve built up a healthy website strand to the business. The website was bespoke built 10 years ago by 2 excellent local guys who set up their own business not long after us. They got us into the online world and continue to look after us today (even though their business has grown considerably and we’ve probably become a bit of a needy friend they can’t quite shake off!). It could do with some attention and updating but it’s holding up nicely and taking care of us.
We can’t imagine how any high street shops cope without an online presence these days. Although it broke our heart to close our doors, at least we’ve been able to fall back on this and use this crisis as an opportunity to further develop this side of our business.
As always, we’ve been focusing on driving new release sales. Spreading the word on new music is where our heart lies. Without our shopfloor displays or animated counter crew, it’s much harder to tell people about the records they should be buying but we’ve been going hard on our socials and newsletters to keep our customers informed about what’s happening, what’s coming out and what should be in their ears.
Labels, suppliers and artists have been incredibly responsive to the situation. They’ve been coming up with all sorts of initiatives, campaigns and cheap product offers. They’ve been offering creative preorder incentives. They’ve driven sales to our sites. They’ve hosted online events. They’ve profiled shops on their socials. Most importantly they’ve kept in touch with us and asked us what they can do to help, even when they too are struggling to see their way out of this mess.
We have been genuinely blown away by the support we’ve seen for our business since this all began. It’s been overwhelming and frequently tear-inducing. It’s given us motivation and purpose. It’s given us hope.
Where we hope to be…
Looking to the future at the moment basically means wondering what we’ll need to sort out tomorrow! For now, we’re taking it all one day at a time and just dealing with what gets decided for us and thrown at us. Rolling with the punches. Embracing opportunities.
At some point we will have to think about how we go about handling having our doors open again, or what happens if that’s not an option soon. We will undoubtedly have a very different business on the other side of this. We will deal with how that looks then.
In the meantime, we have been reminded of just how special our customers are and how much we miss them coming in the door (most of them anyway!!). We have seen just how effective our team can be under extraordinary and unpredictable pressure. We have seen our industry rise to the continuous challenges this bonkers situation has presented. We have experienced kindness, generosity, support and understanding that will keep the optimism flowing.