Hello! If you’ve used this site before we hope you like our new look. You’ll notice a few changes and also we’ve reinstated the blog section which will be occasionally updated with Record Shop related news and opinions. We’re now looking beyond Manchester to cover a wider area of the North West including shops in Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire and beyond.
We started this site in 2009 and at that point many were predicting the demise of the Record Shop. Recession hit retailers had already been battling stiff competition from Supermarkets who could afford to undercut CD prices by selling them as ‘loss leaders’. They then had to face online dealers like Amazon who could afford to undercut both the record shops and the supermarkets by dodging taxes and keeping their overheads low by treating their staff like automatons and piling stock high in vast, faceless warehouses in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the product that they were selling, music, could be downloaded or streamed for free and indeed a whole generation was growing up who assumed that was the norm.
Within a couple of weeks of starting the site one of our favourite shops – in Manchester – closed down and we did wonder whether we would be in fact documenting the slow demise of our local record shops rather than celebrating them. Since the late 90s record shops had been closing down at a phenomenal rate, and some of the ones that remained did feel a bit sad and a bit careworn.
Since we started, a lot has happened. Record Store Day came along which has done a lot to promote and reinvigorate the music retail world and we have also seen a massive resurgence in Vinyl collecting in particular and a new generation who enjoy digging in record shops, collecting records and enjoying the strange and wonderful tangents that offline record shopping can offer. That’s also brought along its own issues (and indeed dubious 180gm splattered colour vinyl re-issues) but things certainly look brighter for record shops than they did in 2009. Over the years, we’ve added more new shops than we have had to <‘archive’> the shut down ones that’s for sure.
Since Record Shop City was launched we’ve seen a technological revolution happen in terms of the way music reaches us, which is still evolving. We’re in an interesting place now which seems to be based on choices people make in terms of how much they want to invest in music. In many ways the path of least resistance, and the easiest option for people who don’t want to pay for music is to stream it – YouTube and Spotify offer that option – almost anything you want to listen to is there at the click of a mouse or tap of an iPhone. However, we still have a national music chain HMV selling CDs and increasingly selling Vinyl (visit any HMV these days and it’s like we’ve gone back 30 years) – which reflects the fact that a lot of people like to enjoy their music on physical formats, and a whole new generation are discovering that too. Why pay £10-15 for a CD or LP when that would pay for a month of unlimited streaming on Apple or Spotify? That’s irrational and makes no sense. Well indeed that’s true but ultimately it’s a lot more fun to go hunting for interesting and strange musical tangents in record shops up and down the land than it is to sit in front of Spotify or Apple Music and wait for the ‘option paralysis’ to subside and choose what to listen to.
So it turns out Record Shops are here to stay after all, and this is our guide to the ones we’ve found around the North West. Whatever kind of music you are into, we have a shop for you. We’ve included a handy guide to each one, with all the details you need, opening hours, and our unbiased reviews. If we’ve missed any shops – let us know as we do keep finding ones we never knew were there. None of the shops has paid for advertising space or offered us discounts or anything else for that matter. We’re doing this for nowt, cos we love ’em and we hope you do too.