‘A shot in the arm for business’: Music lovers queue around the Northern Quarter for Record Store Day

Music enthusiasts descended on the Northern Quarter in their droves this morning to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Record Store Day. People queued from the early hours to purchase limited edition vinyl records on the celebration of independent retailers.

Manchester’s Northern Quarter has a rich selection of stores to choose from for vinyl records and CDs, with Oldham Street’s Vinyl Exchange and Piccadilly Records, as well as Hilton Street’s Vinyl Revival all taking part in Record Store Day. Piccadilly Records was the first to throw open its doors to the queue stretching around to Tib Street at 8am, with marshals James and Kev there to answer everyone’s questions.

The most popular artists, including Taylor Swift and Sam Fender, saw their albums fly off the shelf, while classics from David Bowie and Simple Minds also gained much attention. The long queues quickly faded as fans who knew what they were looking for were left with their successful hauls while many waited for the lines to disappear before turning up for a more relaxed browse.

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“Today is definitely a shot in the arm for business,” Vinyl Exchange manager Rae Donaldson tells me. “It definitely means a lot to all record shops. It gives us a chance to do a lot more business and to get some new people too.

“It’s the first time in two years we’ve been able to do it without any restrictions in place too which is positive, people can be more relaxed about it. Some people who come have never been to a record shop either so it’s a good way of encouraging people to shop independently.

Rae Donaldson, manager at Vinyl Exchange

“You see a lot of young people come on days like today too. It still definitely generates sales for a lot of shops, overall it’s a positive day.”

Record Store Day celebrated its 15th anniversary this year having first started in 2007, and has the backing of many major artists. Salford’s Tim Burgess, frontman of alternative rock legends The Charlatans, gave his support from him for the day, sharing a picture of himself at Piccadilly Records 10 years ago. He said: “Sending positive vibes and good luck for today to the amazing record shops, their brilliant staff, the thousands of vinyl collectors and all those unsung heroes of the music world that keep our music world turning.”

Record Store Day is a unique day for retailers. Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, and Vinyl Revival all released their ‘lists’ yesterday revealing which unique records they would have in stock for limited time to mark the event.

Many of the most popular of these sold out very quickly, with people encouraged to get in their queues as soon as possible. Vinyl Revivals owner Colin White said people set-up outside the shop as early as 4am, a whole five hours before their doors were open.

Queues waiting for Vinyl Exchange to open its doors for Record Store Day
Queues waiting for Vinyl Exchange to open its doors for Record Store Day

Enthusiasts could be seen leaving Piccadilly Records just after 8am this morning with camping chairs over their shoulders as they came fully prepared for long waits. Many came with young children and brought books to pass the time.

Student Dan joined the queue at 6am traveling in from Fallowfield. He managed to pick up a seven inch copy of Taylor Swift’s The Lakes which was only available today. He said: “It’s definitely been a very successful day.

“It’s very much worth the wait, it was colder than I expected but there were good vibes amongst everyone here. I’ll usually buy vinyl online or when I’m at gigs but today’s a special day where everyone comes together for it, it’s nice.”

James and Kev of Piccadilly Records marshalling queues for Piccadilly Records
James and Kev of Piccadilly Records marshalling queues for Piccadilly Records

David regularly visits vinyl exchange but came down especially today to get an edition of Simple Minds 5×5 Live. “A very successful day all in all,” he said, “I only queued for an hour too, once the doors were opened everything moves pretty quickly as people know what they’re here for. Hopefully this encourages people to come back and use shops like this more regularly, but younger people are using Spotify and other things more these days, it’s a shame.”

It wasn’t just city center stores getting involved in Record Store Day today, with XRecords in Bolton and Wilderness Records in Withington putting on their own events. Unfortunately, Wilderness recently announced it would close down after today, highlighting the importance of today in encouraging people to shop locally.

City center bars are also getting involved in RSD with live performances from local DJs. Common on Edge Street is offering discounts to those with receipts from today and playing live music all night with Eastern Block in Steveson Square marking the occasion with 18-hours of live music.

Music lovers after a successful haul on Record Store Day
Music lovers after a successful haul on Record Store Day

While Vinyl Revival owner Colin White thinks RSD has played a significant role in the increased popularity of vinyl over the last decade, he believes RSD needs to go back to its roots of supporting local independent artists and stores. He said: “Four or five years ago you would have had queues around the Northern Quarter until midday but there doesn’t seem to be as much enthusiasm behind it now.

“We’ve got around a third of the stock we’d usually get in this year as so much just doesn’t sell. We’re happy to break even with the RSD stock on a day like today, the whole days become a bit of a gimmick because of the major record companies.

“I’ve had this shop 25 years and been doing RSD 12 of them, I saw the momentum it was bringing but for some reason it’s been largely lost. Covid’s probably played a part in that but the major companies aren’t helping.

Colin White, owner of Vinyl Revival, with an album from his label, Ikon
Colin White, owner of Vinyl Revival, with an album from his label, Ikon

“They’ve massively increased the price of selling a record and only make the ones they think are going to sell loads, like the big pop stars or albums like U2 which are already widely available. We can’t get the more niche albums from independent artists we know people who come here are going to want to buy.

“We have a love hate relationship with RSD these days, it’s lost the buzz it used to have for some reason. You used to get musicians playing in the street and people like Mani (Stone Roses) coming to sign albums, but now you get a lot of people who don’t want to come and browse on a normal day or really discover new music.”

All stores expected the rest of the day to be busy as the city center comes to life for the weekend. There will be plenty of live music on offer tonight so beforehand, why not pop into a record store and discover your new favorite band?

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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