Hello. Jukebox Sales.
How are you?
Iím alright, how are you?
Great thanks. Can I ask you about your background
and how The Jukebox Shop started?
The Jukebox Shop is a family business, my father
started it and has been involved with jukeboxes for
the past 45 years so I grew up with jukeboxes.
Youíve inherited the bug have you?
Yes, in a way. My father used to be one of the
original operators of anything coin operated in pubs
and clubs in the sixties and seventies.
That sounds interesting Ė I bet he had a few
stories to tell.
Oh God yes. He started out with a company called
Ditchburn Ltd from Lytham in Lancashire who were the
UK Wurlitzer importers and distributors in the
fifties and sixties. So he started there, then
started up on his own and from my earliest age and
earliest memory I can remember jukeboxes and arcade
machines being in and around the house, working with
dad fixing them or just going out emptying the five
and ten pence coins from them.
Did they get vandalised much in those days?
They did? Itís not a new phenomenon then?
Oh no. People think itís a new thing but they were
always getting broken into and turned upside down.
I can remember, between you and me, we knew a way to
get money out of the old Ďpress button A, press
button Bí phone boxes Ė I suppose a lot of kids
Yes. Everyone knows a trick.
The phone box cash used to get us the leftovers at
the fish and chip shop. Itís like a different
world isnít it? (Both laugh) The days when we used
to play on the streets and literally youíd be out
from first light until sunset and your parents
wouldnít worry about you.
You could ride your pushbike to school without fear
of being knocked off by some great wagon.
Why is vintage and retro, particularly in the form
of jukeboxes, so popular?
I think itís because people can see and feel the
quality and value in the workmanship with everything
that The Jukebox Shop deals with.
And when you say they can see, they can also see
things working canít they?
Exactly. Itís a very tactile thing. Whenever
someone comes into the shop I say youíre looking
at the aesthetic value and the financial value.
Those are the only two things you really need to
consider Ė if you can afford it and you like what
you see then you should buy it.
And, I suppose, if you like what you hear, although
I suppose sound quality isnít really an issue?
It isnít an issue with our restored machines
because they all sound equally as good. So people
donít normally donít need to make the choice of
"Oh, that one doesnít sound as good as
this." Overall I think people like jukeboxes
and associated memorabilia because it harks back to
a time when we built things to last.
Yes, we did didnít we?
Yes, this is why theyíre still here and why we can
still restore them. It brings back memories for a
lot of people of a youthful age where anything was
possible, everyone had a job and you could go down
the local coffee bar and put your money in the
machine and dance the night away without having to
go out and get drunk. Everything was immediate and
it was there for you to touch. We find with the
younger generation who donít remember vinyl
jukeboxes, itís CDs and MP3s and iPods to them,
they are still fascinated by an era when people
could play these things in pubs and clubs. And in a
way a lot of our customers that are in the younger
generation would like to see these kinds of things
back. Theyíd like to be able to live in that time
when they could go to a local corner cafť and play
a juke box and listen to some music. Instead of
having five different people at five different
tables with different Walkmans or phones playing
different music and not interacting with each other.
And not talking because theyíre communicating over
Facebook or Twitter.
Exactly. These things that we sell do create a
community spirit and a presence and itís almost
like a meeting place for people, whether itís a
jukebox or an arcade game or whether itís a Coke
machine or diner furniture. It all brings in that
community feel for things.
Itís nice that the youngsters are enjoying that
sort of thing.
It certainly is and it always amazes me every time
someone comes in with their son or their daughter
and itís the father that want to buy a jukebox,
but the son or the daughter are loving everything
about it and getting really enthusiastic. I know
they probably just like the idea of speeding £6,000
or £7,000, but it is good to see that they can
still be excited by something as old as a 1950s
I grew up in the sixties and that time we didnít
have any radio Ė we got an hour of pop music a
week from the BBC until Luxembourg and the Pirates
came along. There was nothing for us so we had to go
to places like that to listen to music.
Indeed, not many people had record players at home
in the fifties. You were lucky if you had a
radiogram, you were quite rich, so you went out to
listen to the music and it was a lot cheaper for the
proprietor to have a jukebox in the corner than it
was to hire a live band. So this is how people
accessed their live entertainment, youíre right,
and they had to go outside of their front door to do
it. Whereas now you can sit on The Internet and you
can listen to and play absolutely anything you want.
Although, ironically, it seems the more choice
weíve got the less choice weíve got, I think.
I believe so and itís strange you should say that.
I was having a conversation with somebody regarding
The X Factor, which seems a bit of a sideline, but
they said exactly the same thing. They said youíre
destroying the choice that people have got because
youíre telling them what they should be listening
to instead of giving them the option.
Also I think the youth are being duped into thinking
that celebrity is something to go for in itself and
that you can get it straight away. In the old days
they used to work for years and years before they
got a hit. Thereís no apprenticeship or graft for
No there isnít and the cult of celebrity
aspiration that all the youngsters have these days
is just a false dream for millions of people but
they donít realise that itís a false dream
because itís pumped in to them all the time. It is
available, and if youíre lucky enough, and can get
under the noses of the right people, then youíll
What advice would you give to somebody looking to
buy a jukebox?
The first piece of advice would be to do plenty of
research. Thereís a lot of choice when you
consider there are four main manufacturers in The
United States and each of those manufacturers were
designing at least one new model each year from 1935
up until about 1988.
Did the Germans, Japanese and British not get
involved in production at all?
In the early days it was all the Americans who were
doing it. We had offshoots in various parts of the
world and Europe has its own small mix of companies
Ė there was a German company called NSM that were
producing in the fifties and obviously Wurlitzer.
Although Rudolph Wurlitzer was a German immigrant
into America he set up his factory in the mid 1800s
just making trumpets and stuff like that, eventually
the Wurlitzer factory opened another base in Germany
which is where they are working now rather than
America. They closed the American factory ten years
later. But mainly what everyone yearns for now tends
to be American. There are a few oddities from the
European market like the Chantal Meteors that were
made in Switzerland and the UK but most of it is
American designed, American manufactured. Theyíre
the ones that had the money and the lifestyle to be
able to afford to manufacture and to have these
I remember, being born in í57, watching American
film and TV and it was like a different planet. We
were a hundred years behind them.
Yes, we were in the dark ages.
Weíve caught up now.
But all teenage kids seemed to have cars, they were
all going to college and had TVs in every room. It
took until the mid to late 70s before we got
anywhere near to that. I know Iím talking very
Yes, outside of the things that we believe in,
materialistically the Americans were always ahead.
They probably are still now and if you have money in
America you probably still have a better lifestyle
with that money than you would here Ė you may not
be as healthy or it may not be good for your soul,
but they can have anything they want.
And they have the extremes over there.
Indeed, poor is poor and rich is rich in America
whereas over here we have a good welfare state
system. But as far as what we sell, we are creating
that idea of the American dream lifestyle for
somebody, where anything was possible. If you get a
jukebox and all the trimmings of your American
lifestyle then you can create the scene for your
So do your researchÖ and get your money together.
(Laughs) Get your money together. But more
importantly probably than that, once youíve done
your research itís like buying a car - you donít
go and buy the first car you see. You test drive a
few, you look around, you go and speak to a few
people and get a feel for who youíre dealing with.
People phone us all the time saying "I bought a
jukebox and it doesnít work properly." Then
give them the bad news and they have to bring it
here for us to fix. Whenever anyoneís doing their
research and they come to us I say "Great, come
and have a look at what we do. Come and have a look
in the workshops, come and see a machine being
restored, come and have a look and a listen to one
thatís been fully restored and then go elsewhere
because Iím happy for you to go wherever you want.
If you can buy the same quality machine for the same
price then buy it because it will be a bargain. If
youíre willing to spend £500 or £1,000 less and
get less work done then thatís your choice but
understand that the machine may look really nice on
the outside but it is only as good as the
restoration work that is done on the inside. And
that is all important because thatís the bit that
will cost you a lot of money in the future."
How are you getting these parts because a lot of
them just arenít made any more I presume?
Some parts we make ourselves, a lot of dress parts
and trim parts we will have manufactured or
theyíre available as reproduction parts. We buy a
lot of jukeboxes and anything thatís beyond repair
we strip for spares and use the parts to rebuild the
ones that are better. Ten or fifteen years ago you
could go to America and get your pick of machines.
Now itís getting harder to find them so youíre
doing more restoration work than you used to have to
because things arenít in as good condition. All
the ones that were really nice have gone so weíre
restoring ones that you couldnít just sell
unrestored because no-one would know what to do with
them. We also have to ensure that we buy enough to
keep the ones that weíve sold going.
Youíve got two businesses really, havenít you?
The repairs and the sales.
Thatís right, without a doubt, and repairs and
restorations is full steam ahead all of the time. To
be honest, even if we closed the shop and stopped
using the shop as a showroom the repairs and
restorations would carry on with no problem at all.
What are the best sellers and what are the best
Okay. Probably nearly the same question because the
best sellers are probably the more expensive
machines which would be any of the mid-fifties
Wurlitzerís. A 1700 from 1954 right up to the
Wurlitzer 2100 from 1957.
Thatís it. Those are the best selling
Wurlitzerís and theyíre also the more expensive
Wurlitzerís, anything from £8,000 up to £12,500
now. AMI, H and I and Continentals are always very
popular. The mid-fifties Rock-Olaís are popular,
but everybody really wants a Rock-Ola Tempo I, Tempo
II, Regis or an Empress from the late fifties and
early sixties. Youíll probably know the Rock-Ola
Tempos from Jukebox Jury because they used a Tempo
II on the start sequence of that programme Ė you
see it putting a record on the turntable and playing
it. Everyone recognises that one.
My favourite is the wacky one where the platter
moves up and finds the disc rather than the other
That would be the 1015 or the 1100 Wurlitzer Simplex
mechanism Ė thatís the 1940s machines. There was
a time when weíd be saying that 1940s stuff is the
one to buy and the collectable items Ė the ones
that play the 78s. But because most people now want
to listen to music that was on 45 not 78 obviously
the 45 players are overtaking them in value. There
are still your extremely collectable 78 players Ė
the Wurlitzer 950 Gazelles are still worth £35,000
if you can find one. And probably the most expensive
jukebox you could ever buy recently came up for
auction: a Gable Kuro, apparently thereís only two
of them in the world and it sold for $110,000 at
Wow, and that will already be worth more.
Yes, indeed, but any jukebox is increasing in value
and the more desirable it is the larger the
increase. All the models I mentioned are increasing
in value more rapidly than the 70s and 80s ones
although we are beginning to get a little bit more
interest in the non-visual 1970s jukeboxes. I
suppose it is because the generation that remembers
them in the pubs have now got the money in their
pocket to buy them and they want to listen to their
heavy rock music and their punk music and reggae and
Ska music and they donít want to listen to it on a
1950s Wurlitzer. They want to listen to it on a
1970s jukebox to suit the mood. I digress, if you
want collectability then go for your mid-fifties
Wurlitzerís and AMIís or your late fifties
What sort of feedback are you getting from
Iíd like to say always good. The biggest cause of
customer complaints is when weíve tried to repair
a jukebox bought from somewhere else and theyíre
having to spend a lot of money getting it to our
standard. Thatís unfortunately a problem we come
across quite a lot. Generally most of our
customers come into the shop after buying and say
"That is the best thing Iíve bought in a long
time. We use it every day and itís brought so much
pleasure to us and all of our friends and we should
have done it years ago. Why did we waste all that
money on brand new cars when we could have just
bought a jukebox and kept it and it would have been
increasing in value." Sometimes couples come in
and one of them is unsure but once theyíve lived
with a jukebox for a while they fall under itís
They look so lovely. I suppose there might be some
places where they might look out of place?
I had a conversation with a younger customer who has
got one in a fancy warehouse apartment. Heís got
this 1958 AMI I in the corner of the room and
everything else is black and chrome with a TV on the
wall, Corbusier sofas and all of that kind of
high-end designer furniture. And then his jukebox is
stuck there against a wooden floor and white walls
but it works fantastically well because itís the
focal point of the room. Definitely more striking
than his 50" plasma TV on the wall.
I wish I had that warehouse! So what are the best
aspects of running the business?
Probably what weíve just mentioned, customer
satisfaction. Itís always nice to hear peopleís
comments about how much they love them. Itís also
working with something that is probably going to
last longer than I do and is going to give people
years of pleasure. Oh and I love introducing new
people to the idea of jukeboxes, yes thatís what I
enjoy the most Ė talking to people about them and
enthusing with them about what a jukebox is all
And youíre quite a rare breed now, arenít you?
Because there arenít many people about who can do
proper repairs these days when itís all modular
and circuit boards to be replaced.
Yes, we are. We are also a dying breed that try to
sell something thatís going to last. Weíre not
dealing with the throwaway last you for three years
and then youíll want a new one culture. Weíre
dealing with something that will probably be passed
down to your children and it will end up as a an
heirloom for everyone to enjoy.
Thank God that there are people who recognised that
Thatís right. Although they wouldnít be so
collectable if everybody had hung onto them rather
than smashed up. Thank god there are just enough of
Like with the red phone boxes? We nearly lost all of
I know and one of my biggest regrets is not having
the foresight to buy up a load of red phone boxes
that a friend of mine at the GPO had in a depot. If
only Iíd had the space to store them Ė the depot
was close to us and they were pulling out the red
ones and putting those horrible aluminium ones up.
They were just sat there and the scrap man was just
taking them away and melting them down. It was
And that's apart from the financial value, they can
go for £2,000 plus these days.
I know a couple of people who have got them in their
gardens and theyíre fantastic talking points. If
there is a typically British item that could be
shipped to America and sold then itís the red
phone box or a red Routemaster bus. Thatís what
everybody wants. If you could find forty telephone
boxes youíd make a fortune in the States.
What are your plans for the future Stuart, talking
about passing on to other generations?
As far as Iím concerned I will carry on as long as
I can Ė my wifeís daughter isnít particularly
interested and I donít have any children myself so
it won't stay within the family. But I donít
expect to be retiring for the next 25years.
I will carry on, hopefully we will be one of the
survivors of the economic downturn. There have been
a few jukebox shops that have closed down. I hope to
be one of the last jukebox shops standing.
And so much the stronger for it.
Yes, and I think thatís because we take a pride in
what we do and that will show through at the end of
the day. I can only see the business going from
strength to strength really.
Fantastic Stuart. Thanks very much.