There’s no need to change the record as co-owner Kevin Jones tells Miranda Jessop all about Eel Pie Records in Church Street.
It was when vinyl was making a big comeback two or three years ago that my friend Phil Penman and I decided to pursue our dream of opening a record shop together. We had both been lifelong music fans who stuck with vinyl when most people had abandoned it. Phil has worked at a senior level in the music industry for many years so has a deep understanding of the business. I came with a consumer’s perspective and business management experience from other sectors. We always used to talk about how great it would be to open a record shop in Twickenham but we never imagined that it would ever really happen. But with the resurgence of interest in vinyl, we convinced ourselves that we could make a go of it.
Choosing a name for the shop was easy; we are lucky to have such a strong musical heritage here in Twickenham and Eel Pie is a name that resonates around the whole world.
Most of our stock is vinyl but we do sell some CDs too. Just over half of our records are new and the rest are carefully curated second-hand. We source our second-hand vinyl from local people wanting to sell their collections and we are interested in most genres as long as the records are in good condition. We’re not really interested in easy listening such as Johnny Mathis or Barbra Streisand.
When we first started out, we weren’t really intending to stock 7-inch singles but customers kept asking for them and now we have a great selection. As well as stocking a variety of books, memorabilia, record players and turntables, we also serve great coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
There is something emotionally engaging about vinyl; in some respects each record is like a photograph, reminding you of a time in your life when you bought it or a person who gave it to you. Some say it delivers a warmer kind of sound and to some extent I think playing records makes you a better listener. Digital music is amazing but there is always a temptation to flick through the tracks and it’s easy to end up in a self-curated cocoon of music. Putting on a record encourages you to sit and listen and can end up taking you on a whole new direction of musical discovery.
Our customers come from far and wide. Last week we had a guy in from Greenland who was a massive fan of second-hand vinyl. He spent a good couple of hours in the shop and bought thirty albums.
Sharing retail space with Ricardo’s Cellar and Limpopo works incredibly well; people often tell us we have the perfect mix of music, booze and biltong!
I have always been fascinated by music and I have definitely passed this passion on to my children. One of my daughters is the drummer in an all-female band called Goat Girl who are just releasing their first album and are really going places.
Phil and I are so excited to be a part of this year’s Record Store Day UK on 21st April. A global phenomenon which started in America around ten years ago to encourage people back into record stores, all participating shops are allocated special vinyl releases which are only available in-store on that particular day. Our customers are sending us their wish lists and we’ll do our best to get what everyone wants. As it’s our first year, we’re not sure quite how it will go but, you never know, we might even have customers queuing all the way down Church Street!
We’re having so much fun running Eel Pie Records. We have so many more ideas for developing the business and, with Eel Pie Island Museum now open, we feel as if we have only just scratched the surface of what is possible here.
Eel Pie Records, 44-45 Church Street