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collectablerecords.co.uk†

 



 


 

 

collectablerecords.co.uk 


Collectable Records is a long-established record dealership run by Tim from a shop in Stafford, UK. Vinyl records, DVDs, videos and music related memorabilia.

If you have any mint condition albums or collections of vinyl or memorabilia, whatever the genre or decade, then please contact Tim with the details and he may well be interested in acquiring them. There is big interest in British and American popular music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s from eastern Europe at the moment.

Here, Digger talks to Tim who is a specialist in all things related to vinyl and records about the changing face of collectable records over the past three decades. New technologies and new markets have opened up a whole new world of opportunities for small independent record dealers like Tim...

 

 

 

Digger: Hello Tim. How are you?

Tim: Hello David. Fine thanks.

Digger: Can you tell us a bit about the background to what youíre doing?

Tim: We started in 1998.

Digger: It says something about starting earlier than that on your website.

Tim: Yes, well I used to work for a chap who had the shop in the eighties and he went to America. So I took over the shop and carried on and he ended up as my landlord.

Digger: Youíve been established in the same premises for a long time?

Tim: Yes, so the association with Stafford is probably twenty or thirty years. I took it over properly in í98, and I thought at that time things were changing Ė things like videos and CDS were becoming popular. The shop had closed down at one time because vinyl had gone out of fashion and I opened it up when I could see the potential of videos and CDs. And it did really well with those. Iíve always had this liking for the eighties and the shopís always had this slant towards the eighties.

Digger: And why not?

Tim: Yes, I think that if you sell stuff itís so much better if you have an interest in it.

Digger: Thatís so right.

Tim: Youíve got to know what youíre doing really and know what other people like.

Digger: Youíve got to have a passion otherwise you wonít give it 100% and also other people will pick up on the fact you arenít bothered.

Tim: Yes. So I always had colourful eighties memorabilia scattered around the shop .

Digger: Have you had many eighties celebrities in the store?

Tim: Not really, only Stafford-based ones Ė thereís a band called Bizarre Inc. and they buy stuff from here. Thereís sort of people on the edge, and if you were into dance music youíd know these people, who are big producers who work with Robbie Williams. They come in and get vinyl for sampling and things like that and people who are serious about their music. But Staffordís a bit of a quiet and strange town and nothing much really happens in Stafford. (Digger laughs) We donít get many celebrities here.

Digger: Even where I am weíve got two at the moment Ė Alan Carr and Matt Smith are both locals in Northampton.

Tim: Weíve got Dave Gorman Ė thatís about all I can think of. In the eighties, Stafford was on the map because of lots of acid and dance music.

Digger: There havenít been enough good music maps of the UK have there?

Tim: There was that programme about the musical map of Great Britain.

Digger: Yes and also the Rock Family Trees . I can remember the one you mean where they looked at it from a birdís eye view. It was okay.

Tim: Yes, they never really got into it deeply.

Digger: No it was all a bit general. Iíd like a detailed map of where ideas were born, where bands formed, where important music-related events happened and so on.

Tim: Yes. So I took over in í98 and focused on this eighties thing and very quicklyÖ you see, David, Iíve always had an interest in doing mail order since I was a teenager and Iím fifty now. And I was always intending doing it in the traditional way where you advertise in Record Collector and send a catalogue or a list out Ė the old-fashioned way. And it was about the time that The Internet was becoming popular in í99. I donít know about you, but Iím not a technical person Ė Iíll find out how something works if I have to.

Digger: But youíre not drawn to technology unless you have to? Iím a bit similar.

Tim: Computer people seem to blind you with science so that youíre going to need them, or at least need their knowledge.

Digger: I think things have changed a lot since í99. Back then I was in IT and we were always accused of using jargon and being a bit elitist. But all of the jargon I used to use has now become part of everyday language and the technologies have become fully absorbed into everyday culture.

Tim: I knew a lecturer at Stafford University and he was an ELO fan. He used to blind me with science when I asked him how I got onto The Internet. What sort of computer would I need to buy? I hadnít got a clue about it. And then I just happened to read an advert in a record magazine Ė Record Mart it was called and some computer shop had put an ad in there and said all you needed was a basic computer. That was like an eye-opener to me Ė a £200 or £300 computer. I got on straight away and built the site using Publisher Ď98 and it was just finding out how to use something and just getting on with it.

Digger: Well done you. So you didnít need to learn HTML?

Tim: No, thatís what I thought but I think I was lucky that Publisher came out at the time and the website is still basically the same now. But it does direct people to the shop.

Digger: It doesnít matter. So long as it does the job.

Tim: So I was on The Internet early in í98 and I could see it moving towards that. Thereís eBay now, but in those days there were two other sites called Gem and Netsounds and I noticed they were in these magazines. So I started selling on Gem and Netsounds and got off to a great start because I was one of the few people in at the start. Everything I was listing was getting top money and went really quickly.

Digger: (Laughs) It gave you a false sense of how easy it was all going to be!

Tim: My girlfriend would list them for me Ė Iíd give her boxes of records and sheíd list singles at £5 and LPs at £10.

Digger: How did you describe them?

Tim: Just basic descriptions, because theyíre not as good as eBay for listings.

Digger: Do you describe items as VGC?

Tim: I still do this now David. I only list stuff thatís in excellent condition.

Digger: Thatís good.

Tim: I think youíre just messing about if you try to describe the other lesser stuff. Marks on the corner or whatever. So all that stuff thatís not perfect goes in the shop so people can see what theyíre buying.

Digger: You donít want any comeback when dealing with people in far flung places.

Tim: No, in fact theyíre better than excellent, theyíre nearly mint. So thatís how I got going, by giving my girlfriend 1,000 records and sheíd  list them and weíd upload. And they got going really well.

Digger: And what did she get for that?

Tim: (Laughs) I donít  know, about £40 a thousand.

Digger: (Laughs) Oh, you did pay her then? I thought youíd say ďA nice warm feeling.Ē Doing uploading to databases is horrible Ė Iíve had to do that to a virtual shop and itís mind-numbingly boring loading images and text and so on, because theyíre so similar.

Tim:  Another thing Ė having a shop was the first proper business where Iíd faced the public and had to make decisions.

Digger: And do you enjoy meeting them?

Tim: Yes, Iíve learned a lot about people and how to deal with them. Everybodyís got an angle and like all of us weíre all there to do the best for us. So I think I let stuff go too cheaply early on but the business got off to a good start selling on The Internet. Then I came up with the idea of getting a bit of local free advertising Ė I think thatís one of the best ways to promote, via local papers with a little story and theyíll publish it. Thatís what I did and people will always read stories rather and ads Ė theyíll flick past ads, wonít they?

Digger: Thatís what I find with these Features Ė because theyíre not ads but usually interviews about a business people find them more interesting than an ad. The expertise makes it more of a read for people.

Tim: Yes, they probably would pick up on me and other people through reading them.

Digger: Definitely. So have things changed an awful lot? What about the impact digital has had on you?

Tim: Yes, when I started it wasnít easy but I got off to a flying time at the right time with DVDs and videos Ė it was always called Collectable Records. But records were just bubbling under and it was a good name to have.

Digger: CDs and memorabilia as well?

Tim: Yes, and all the kids, everyone in fact, would come down for videos and if it had been deleted you had to come to a shop like mine. The shop was always packed out and HMV and Smiths would send people down to our shop if they were out of something. It was really good. eBay wasnít really established Ė a chap used to come into the shop and tell me how good eBay was. They were encouraging you on there and letting you list for free. But I couldnít see any need to move away from the music sales sites like Gem because I was doing so well on those. It seemed very fiddly to me to take a photograph and describe each item.

Digger: It is.

Tim: But since I have learned how to do it and simplify the process. And eBay get the customers, donít they? In those days people didnít have any idea.

Digger: No, I was on eBay early in around about í98 and nobody knew about it, or understood the jargon of computers but now everyone is fluent in it all.

Tim:  These companies like Amazon and eBay are really clever people, arenít they? Theyíll do product placement in films so youíll get the characters in films using eBay or searching on Google and it gets into peopleís consciousness.

Digger: The Internet is a fantastic resource but actually if you asked most people, and Iím the same, how many websites they really use on a regular basis it would just be a handful. I use the BBC for the weather and the news, I use the iPlayer if I want to watch something and Iíll probably go to eBay if I want to sell something. If I want music or books I go to Amazon or iTunes first of all. And thatís what people do. If you want to do a search then the engine of choice for most people is Google.

Tim: Yes, I was reading an article in a magazine and a celebrity said his favourite website was Google (Laughs)

Digger: How weird. I suppose there is some content on there in terms of sponsored sites and so on. But in  the same way as we need to discourage people from using the same few supermarkets and turning  it all into one bland nothingness with no choice, I think we also need to encourage people to use all these different specialist sites.

Tim: Weíve got to be careful that it isnít all sucked up by eBay and Google I suppose which is the big danger. Iím surprised Google havenít come up with an eBay-type thing like a Google shop.

Digger: Google has so much power because they can make or break a business based on whether they can be found  and they can ban or demote sites if they want to.

Tim: Yes, and I wonder if Facebook are going to move towards having buying and selling on their site because theyíre powerful as well, arenít they?

Digger: They have a lot of ads on there and get revenue from that. One of my clients wanted to target clients in the north east of England and joined the Ďnorth east of  Englandí group on Facebook. It was that simple.

Tim: Yes. I need to get around to doing a Facebook thing.

Digger: Facebook and Twitter are useful as a business tool but I havenít exploited them properly because Retrosellers takes up so much of my time thereís little left for social networking  sites. In an idea; world we should be promoting on there because itís free.

Tim: Did you find that eBay was free when you started?

Digger: I donít remember paying, but then most of the time I was a buyer and not a seller. I think I only paid when my items sold and not for listings Ė at least nowhere near as much as they charge now which is for every little thing. And it all adds up.

Tim: They wanted to get sellers on there but there probably were completion fees. I noticed eBay started having a big stand at the record fairs come 2000/2001, which was strange because although they were paying the organiser of the record fair they were basically taking his business away from him, werenít they?

Digger:  Do you go to the VIP and Premier Record Fairs and events?

Tim: Yes, I do. Local ones as well.

Digger: Youíve got wants lists on your site Ė youíve got your own wants list. Whatís the story behind that?

Tim: In about 2000 Amazon rang up everyone on the record sales website like Gem and sent a confidentiality contract out about their new shop and they were bending over backwards to get us on there. They had also seen what eBay were doing and wanted to do their version of it, called Zshops, where you just listed vinyl on there and when somebody searched on say, Abba Ė all products, then it would come up with books, CDs, programmes, vinyl and so on.

Digger: Itís clever when they provide suggestion lists of what they think youíre going to like and they also have their own Power Sellers a bit like eBay.

Tim: Yes, can you do that? Can you link products to a particular page, for example Sandie Shaw.

Digger: No, Iíd really like to but thatís for the next version of my site.

Tim: Is it true that Facebook and Google, and I suppose itís true with your site as well, that they try to keep people on them for as long as possible?

Digger: Yes, they donít want a big Ė they call it the bounce rate, and thereís no point in somebody coming into your site if they go straight out again.

Tim: I find I could probably go on your site for at least an hour Ė I donít do it because I always go from one thing to another.

Digger: Thatís the point and itís music to my ears. Thatís good if it floats your boat. There are lots of people who tell me theyí hate meí because they were on there for three hours. I stand back from it occasionally and am surprised at how much there is on the site and I enjoy it almost as a newcomer. Maybe something that I did about three years ago, maybe an interview, and I think ďWerenít they interesting?Ē Itís almost like me reading it for the first time and so I can imagine what itís like for people coming in for the first time.

Tim: How do you go about not blinding people with too much information in one go?

Digger: Well, itís very difficult, isnít it? And thatís probably the weakness of the site.

Tim: Where do I start?

Digger: Yes. There are some people who are a bit overwhelmed by the content. Itís a difficult one, but if you go to the BBC site, for example, thereís a lot on there and you just have to navigate your way around. I try to keep it simple Ė interviews to start, then the Special Features section where youíre going to go into. And there are a number of nostalgia or retro-related business that people coming into my site might be interested in. At some stage in the future I will revamp it, rewrite it, reorganise it and it will have lots of extra bells and whistles, like some you have mentioned. In the meantime I will ask you what Star Interviews youíd like to go into and put your ad in any of those. Then youíll show up in those.

Tim: Great. So the reason why my site mentions the Ďwantsí, and is a little out-of-date, is because Amazon came along and I used to use it to sell. I was competing with Esprit, which then became 991.com. But they were the big boys.

Digger: Theyíre on my site.

Tim: So my wants were basically the kind of stock weíd be after Ėyou could probably buy and sell almost anything. Maybe not Max Bygraves, but a woman bought ten Johnny Mathis LPs from me at £9 each. So you can sell anything/ Thereís no need to be just specialising in only rarities. I donít think a lot of dealers think like that Ė they go through the record collector price guide and they want the £1,000 albums. I donít think itís very clever, either, because itís telling you what to buy. Youíve got to have a feel for something as I was saying in the beginning Ė if you like something then someone else is going to like it as well, arenít they? The Osmonds, David Cassidy, Howard Jones Ė whoever it is.

Digger:  Thereís also the stack Ďem high and sell Ďem cheap mentality too which can apply Ė if youíve got all the more popular and less valuable items rather than the pricey rare items then youíre going to shift a lot more product than the guy who has a couple of rarities.

Tim: Yes. Itís nice because other dealers like the rarity deals Ė the Elvis, Beatles and prog obvious rock rarities. They donít think of the Johnny Mathis fan Ė I can buy that stock and fill the gaps that theyíre not bothering with. I can get a lot of my stuff from 50p boxes or just cheap collections that people are bringing in. And the eighties stuff is sneered at a little bit, donít you think?

Digger: Yes, there is a little bit of snobbery around the eighties.

Tim: Well I donít mind that. I like that era and Iíll fill the gaps that theyíre not bothering with. You might find stuff in their boxes relatively cheap but if Iím stocking it permanently it should be a fair price, really, so £7 or £8 for an album. If you sell an album on eBay at £7.99 youíre lucky you come out of that with £4 or £5. I donít sell anything off cheaply. I will do a big chunk of Johnny Mathis listings and cater for specific fans.

Digger: So there isnít anybody who you wouldnít sell?

Tim: No. I donít like snobbery in music either. Whoís to say anybodyís music is better than anybody elseís? You couldnít say Max Bygraves was brilliant to listen to but it would make somebody happy in the same way that decent music would make another person happy.

Digger: Iíve applied the Ďno snobberyí rule to my site and thereís interviews with one or two groups that I didnít personally favour myself but I know that they were very popular with other people.

Tim: Thatís what I like about your site. Itís my kind of site because itís not the obvious and just Paul McCartney and so on. Itís the people on the fringe and the cult people and the ones you donít read anywhere else. So youíre filling the gaps as well arenít you really? Iíd like to see you do an article on Jenny Hanley. You wouldnít find that anywhere else.

Digger: Thereís a number of people I am planning on or trying to include on the site and Jenny would be one who would be interesting with her connections with childrenís TV and with the Bond movies. Sometimes itís hard to get hold of these people.

Tim: I suppose the angle is if they are currently trying to push something they are doing at the momentĖ a new book or a tour?

Digger: Thatís exactly right. And if theyíre not bored with what they did before.

Tim: Yes, because I donít think they want to keep talking about some things. Jenny Hanley has done loads in her life.

Digger: Iím always trying for people like that and fortunately a lot of them say yes.

Tim: The people who attend the Birmingham Memorabilia Fairs. Man About The House?

Digger:  Funnily enough I was looking at contacting Paula Wilcox the other day. Sheíd be great.

Tim: Theyíre putting a book together at the moment about it and I think Brian Murphy has been involved in that. He was on Cash In The Attic the other day and I think he mentioned something about it.

Digger: Heís an elder statesman these days.

Tim: Heís married to the Hi-Di-Hi actress.

Digger: Yes, Linda Regan.  So are you going to update and make some changes to your website Tim?

Tim: When I find a program to do it properly because I do it all myself. Probably I need to pay somebody to do a website properly at some point. Iíve got pictures on the opening page of the site with very ordinary things like Blondie and Parallel Lines so people know we donít just do rare stuff.

Digger: Yes, I noticed that. I didnít realise until the other day that they had several UK hits before they had a hit in the UK.

Tim: Yes.

Digger: So you cover all the decades as well as your focus on the eighties?

Tim: Oh yes. I do everything because Iíve got a wide knowledge of records as Iíve been collecting since 1972 maybe. And selling since í78. I just naturally pick up information about records.

Digger: You have one of those brains where you remember it all because youíre interested.

Tim: If someone comes into the shop about the fifties music I can reel off information but it doesnít really get me excited. The sixties is not too bad but by the eighties I think pop music had got really good and they had it sussed.

Digger: Formulaic.

Tim: Yes. The seventies was good as well but I just love the eighties because it was so colourful and everything had just reached its peak, including the TV. And then the nineties was a bit of a disappointment. Today, they are looking back on Sonic The Hedgehog and Super Mario and things like that for nineties retro rather than music.

Digger: Weíll soon have the nineties on our site. Thatís the thing about retro, itís slowly moving forward.

Tim: Yes.

Digger: What are your top sellers?

Tim: The obvious ones are The Beatles. The eighties stuff Ė Joy Division, Happy Mondays and the Indie stuff are all probably the best sellers. But things like Grandmaster Flash, they sell really well. All the eighties dance stuff. Blondie and Abba. I donít know if youíve noticed but you now get people in Croatia and Russia who loves our seventies and eighties stuff and Iím glad Iíve got in on this.

Digger: One of my vinyl clients said itís a shame because he is selling to eastern Europe and Greece, Turkey and so on and making hay, but in the long run itís going to mean that we donít have a supply of this stuff because itís all gone abroad.

Tim: Say Abba, for instance, Iíve probably got fifteen copies of Arrival and I had a couple of orders today. When you start dismissing the ones that are a bit rough around the edges youíve probably got two or three really nice copies. And although they used to come in a lot in the past they are not these days. So Iím going to have to be a bit careful and not allow stuff to go too cheaply.

Digger: No. And itís all going east. Can I ask you what are your plans for the future?

Tim: Iím just focusing towards The Internet. Itís a bit sad, because I like having a shop, but Iíve got to think about money and the shop doesnít bring in a lot compared to the online business. People are getting a bit lazy now and prefer searching on The Internet.

Digger: Itís a shame because thereís nothing like the experience of rummaging around in a record shop. Even the smell of an old record shop.

Tim: So if anybodyís got any eighties stuff they want to get rid of and theyíre finding that other dealers are turning their noses up at it then Iíll definitely be interested.

Digger: Thatís good Tim. Thatís your USP.

Tim: They may find it easy to sell The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones to other dealers but those dealers turn their nose up at the Blondie, Spandau Ballet and Human League.

Digger:  So you want these in mint condition. And any music memorabilia as well?

Tim: Yes, mint. And any scarves, programmes, ticket stubs from the seventies but mainly the eighties. Thatís the area I want to concentrate on.

Digger: Tim, thanks very much for letting us know about Collectable Records.

Tim: Thank you David.

 


 

  

 

collectablerecords.co.uk 

 

We are Stafford's largest collector's shop, offering a huge range of deleted vinyl records, cds, videos and music-related memorabilia. We started out supplying collectors in the Stafford area and now supply vinyl records and CDs world-wide to collectors, musicians and TV  companies. So if you cannot make it to our shop in person you can take advantage of our world-wide mail-order service. We buy vinyl records every day, so if you have vinyl LPs or singles to sell, then drop them in to us.

We also buy music magazines. We buy Music Papers, Music Magazines, Music Memorabilia 1952- 2002. NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, Record Mirror, Smash Hits, Noise, Superpop, Mojo, The Face, Kerrang, Raw, Disc, Zigzag, Rolling Stone, Let It Rock and many other music papers and music memorabilia, too numerous to mention.  If you have items to sell, then please get in touch, or simply bring them into the shop for an instant offer.

Collectable Records
101 Wolverhampton Road, Stafford. ST17 4AH. UK

Telephone: (01785) 600351

E-mail: sales@collectablerecords.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 


 

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