Major life decisions probably shouldn’t be made while drunk at 4am – but that’s how Slide Record Shop got started. So far, even with the worst that COVID-19 is throwing at us, there are absolutely no regrets.
Warren, my husband and partner in this madness, knew that he was done with the City. He’d over 30 years of record collecting and DJ-ing under his belt and a clear vision of the shop he’d love to dig in that he wanted to make a reality. I’m Nerys, a former aid worker who having spent time in Afghanistan and Chechnya, brought absolutely no relevant experience to this endeavour apart from a ‘Hell yes, let’s do it’ philosophy and not scaring easy. Fast forward four years and Slide opened in Bedford in September 2017. A family business, we’ve also been joined by our two little boys. They are awesome with a price gun and at initiating dance offs with customers. Running a business with two small children may not be a sensible move, but it is fun.
From the start Bedford has welcomed us and we feel very lucky to be part of this passionate creative community. Home to the legendary Esquires venue, Bedford knows and loves its music. Our customers have diverse tastes and we stock a host of new music on vinyl, as well as having a second-hand record collection, to meet demand. Then there’s the records we buy in because we really love them and are both thrilled yet disappointed when they sell. Since we opened our doors the town has been able to host Record Store Day for the first time, we’ve put on children’s DJ lessons, celebrated International Women’s Day, had brilliant acts perform live in the shop and even welcomed Viv Goldman to talk feminism and punk. We feel proud of what we have created: a welcoming space to feed your passion for music and discover great records.
We took the decision to shut our physical shop before lockdown and once lockdown was announced we took our shop offline while we figured out how to operate safely. After a lot of talking, researching and seeking advice we’ve now re-opened for online orders and are offering socially distanced pick up. We’re loading our second-hand collection onto the Slide website, when previously we’d kept it in-store only. Partly because we loved some of those gems being a secret between us and our customers to discover in the racks. But also because getting it all online looked like a faff. COVID-19 has proven that it is indeed a faff, but one Warren is undertaking with the minimum of grumbling.
All this has hurt. We miss chatting to our customers, learning about new records, great gigs, music history and even sometimes receiving veg from their allotments. We’ve cancelled events we were really excited about. However, we have been incredibly touched by the support we have had from our community. While we were closed customers bought gift vouchers, placed orders for when we re-opened and messaged just to see how we were doing. Now we are back open the orders and requests for future releases are flowing in. It’s been so good to see people, albeit at 2 metres apart during socially distanced purchase pick-ups.
We don’t know what the new normal will look like or when it will arrive. What we do know is we are determined to continue running a damn good local record shop in this uncertain future.