It was exactly 2 years ago today that my time working for a major record company came to an end. It was time for something new. I was lost, had no appetite to jump back in, only one thing for it, open a record shop!
I had been quietly thinking about this for a couple of years. As someone who has collected records for many years, I was always surprised that Richmond Upon Thames did not have a record shop. An area with such a rich musical heritage surely needs this. After months of trying to find the right shop and negotiating a lease, we opened the doors of Sleeve Notes Records on February 1st 2019.
We were a welcome addition to Richmond Hill and quickly settled into the community. As any of my peers will know, it takes time to build up a regular flow of customers. I was happy with where I got to after our first year. I learned so much and really got to know what our customers wanted. Over the first 12 months, the demand for Jazz, Soul, Electronic, Outernational and Soundtracks has really grown, so these are the areas we really focus on now while still keeping a well balanced collection of other styles.
We also sell Music books and Rega Turntables. We had plans in place to grow the business this year when the Lockdown hit, putting everything on hold.
The impact of lockdown:
While the shop has had a website since we opened, online sales were such a small part of our business. Like so many of our fellow Record shops, we have had to adapt. Our website is now a lot more functional and easier to navigate, with daily stock updates.
We offer free local delivery by bike in the Richmond and Twickenham area. Our customers love this service and this has offered us a lifeline in these uncertain times. The shop is located in such a beautiful area with no shortage of green spaces and river paths by the Thames making the bike rides a lot more enjoyable.
While this doesn’t come close to making up for the loss of shop revenue, it is keeping us going and maintaining a relationship with our customers. I remain optimistic for the future and hope to open the shop again as soon as lockdown is lifted. Like so many other small independent businesses, a lot will depend on landlords and a willingness to work with us while we build the business up again.
Our Sleeve Notes Records Mixtape continues to grow with new tracks added daily. We are at 23 hours and rising. It has become a lockdown soundtrack for many of our customers.
Sleeve Notes Lockdown Playlist
The support of Love Record Stores is much appreciated while we navigate our way through these strange and difficult times. A daily reminder of the importance of independent record shops. I can’t wait to welcome our customers back into the shop, whenever that may be. I look forward to sitting behind the counter once more, Listening to their tales of the great lockdown.
‘Til then, stay Safe 🙏