This month we’d like to introduce you to our ‘Indie Store of the Month’ Tallbird! Based in Chesterfield, this great store provides a large selection of CDs, LPs and as well as second hand music collectables.
Please introduce yourself and give a brief bit of background / history to the shop…
My name is Maria Harris, I’m the owner of Tallbird Records and we’ve been open since October 2013. I had just turned 50, felt I needed a challenge as my kids were getting older and no longer needed me at home all the time, and the prospect of another 10 years of “just” being a housewife didn’t really appeal. Chesterfield had two music shops when we moved here in 2006 – HMV and the legendary Hudson’s Music Shop, both of which had closed down so, feeling that a town isn’t really worth living in unless there’s somewhere to buy records, I had no option but to open a record shop! That, plus the fact that the best job I ever had was working in a record shop (in the 80s – in Richard’s Records Canterbury and then Beggars Banquet Kingston), were the deciding factors, not to mention it was the start of the real resurgence in vinyl so I saw an opportunity to provide an offer that was focused on quality new and second hand vinyl releases, hoping (but not really knowing for certain) if the interest in vinyl extended to Chesterfield. Fortunately it did (and does), and here we are two years later with a successful little business that caters for most musical tastes, and even sells CDs too!
What positive developments and changes for independent music retail have you noticed occurring recently?
Obviously there’s been a bit of an explosion of new independent record shops opening up the length and breadth of the country which is fabulous to see. Record Store Day has really helped to drive interest and what was once a very niche little gathering of record collectors once a year is now something that is looked forward to and celebrated by a wide cross-section of music fans, young and old. It’s good to see record companies continuing to support independent shops throughout the year with “Indie only ” releases, it’s always nice to feel like you’ve got something to offer your customers that monoliths like Amazon can’t!
What more do you think can be done to help independent music retail?
I’d like to see more frequent and better deals on pricing and promotions for independents to enable us to compete better with online and supermarkets, particularly on CDs. I’d also appreciate more regular PoS for key releases, which can be used not only to advertise releases in store but make good freebies for our customers to incentivize them to buy from us rather than online.
How is the local music scene in Chesterfield? What role do you think an independent music store should have in its local community?
There is quite a thriving local music scene in Chesterfield and we’ve been very keen to support and promote it in any way that we can. Apart from stocking local acts’ releases we also celebrated local music on Record Store Day by holding a free event at a local live venue, with 13 different local acts playing acoustic sets, and compered Jools Holland-style by our good friend Ashley Hutchings, ex Fairport Convention, Albion Band etc. We also released a 7″ record for charity on our own label featuring two local bands “The Amber Herd” and the “Idle Hands” – we’d love to do more releases and events to support local music in the future.
Finally, what three recent / forthcoming releases are you particularly enjoying at the moment?
Well funnily enough my favourite album of the year is “Architect” by C Duncan – I’ve played it to death in the shop and virtually forced many of my regulars to buy a copy, knowing that they will not be disappointed! It’s a really beautiful album, with not a single duff or filler track on it. I’ve also made a great discovery this year thanks to the release of “Alone & Unreal: The Best Of Clientele”, a band that had been way off my radar and so I have had a lot of catching up to do with their back catalogue. I’m looking forward to sticking the new Matt Berry album on the turntable when I get back in the shop tomorrow – his last album was a firm shop favourite last year.