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Selectadisc Closure Announced

28 February 09 words: Paul Klotschkow

It was announced yesterday that after over 40 years of trading in Nottingham, the legendary music shop Selectadisc is going to close at the end of March. There is only one word to describe this: Tragic.

Manager Phil Barton has said that the shop has been losing money for the past two years and that it was financially not viable to keep the store open, “The shop has been basically uneconomic for the last two years. We've been trying to keep it going more as a social service than as a normally functioning business. There comes a point where you just say 'I cannot do this any more'”.

It can be argued that Selectadisc along with Robin Hood, Boots, Raleigh and Su Pollard is a Nottingham icon, and with it going a piece of Nottingham's heritage is being torn out. For generations Selectadisc has been serving the city, from the time it used to be on Arkwright Street through to its current home on Market Street. A good example of this, is that I have a whole bunch of vinyl (remember that, kids?) that I've purloined from my parents over the years, and many of them still have a Selectadisc price tag on them dating back to the early 70s. Then I look at my recent purchases and the majority of them have all been from Selectadisc. This is not any ordinary shop; it's an institution that has provided Nottingham folk for years with wonderful musical delights.  

Selectadisc was awesome for so many reasons. The place is steeped in history with the likes of The Clash, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, The Young Ones (Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson) and the Ramones having done in-store appearances there. The place was also staffed part-time by members of great Notts bands like Bent and Six By Seven.

Not only was it a great place to find a wide selection of music; I could go in on any given day and find the shelves stacked with anything from Krautrock, 60s acid freak-outs, math rock through to Soul, Country, and Jazz. This was an emporium serving up a wealth of music. Add to that staff who knew their shit, and if you were ever looking for a certain track or wanted a recommendation, they were always willing to point you in the right direction. And if they didn't have it, they would tell you were to get it. That is customer service. Selectadisc was a shop run by genuine music fans, people who cared about the stuff that they were selling, it wasn't just treated as a product.

Selectadisc was not only a record store, it was a hub for the local music scene. You could go in there and find out about a whole host of gigs and nights out that were happening in Nottingham. The building is like one big giant advertising board for events in Nottingham, the walls are plastered with posters and flyers, giving promoters a chance to advertise their events. Plus, if you were lucky, you could purchase a ticket for one of the shows over the counter upstairs. What a service. Then there was the noticeboard full of adverts from bands looking for members, or musicians looking for bands.

Independent record stores still in Nottingham:Looking back and thinking about it, it seems that the writing was on the wall for Selectadisc a long time ago. When I started buying music the shop occupied 3 stores on Market Street, but this became two, and then a year ago just the one shop was standing. Clearly not the signs of a business that is doing well, and more like the dying breaths of an animal trying to keep itself alive but realising that the fight is futile and it will eventually end up dead.

So why is Selectadisc shutting down? It certainly can't be easy for an independent business to stay afloat during the current economic recession. But I guess the biggest factor is the fact that many people's music habits are changing. Nowadays the majority of music listeners download their music or stream it online – often for free. Recently, a music survey threw up the startling fact that the majority of music listeners aged between 16 and 24 actually think they shouldn't pay for music. If a whole generation of music fans think that music should be free, how can a place like Selectadisc survive? The startling facts are that they can't as Phil Barton has said, “Ten years ago, the country had more than 1,000 independent music stores. Last year, there were 410. Now there are 305”.

My initial thought upon hearing this news was, “so where am I going to get my music now?”. There are still a handful of independent music stores left in the city (see list below), but despite being excellent, they either specialise in one or two areas or only offer second hand finds; they do not have the wide range of music that Selectadisc had to offer. HMV is appalling for so many reasons that I even refuse to give them the time of day, but with their takeover of FOPP and even more recent takeover of Zavvi, it seems that are steadily becoming the only way to get music on the highstreet. They are the Tesco's of the record store.

Maybe I'm a little set in my ways, but downloads in my opinion are the worse format to listen to music; they sound absolutely pants (compare the sound quality of an mp3 to a vinyl record or even a CD and you will hear what I mean), and you never really feel like you own the music. I still want to hold the disc in my hands, read through the liner notes, smell it (yes I'm odd like that), organise the cases/sleeves on my shelf. For me this is part of the enjoyment of buying the record, actually owning the product and being able to hold it.   

Maybe I will have to start heading to Amazon or hitting up the last few remaining independent records stores in other cities, like Rough Trade in London. Either way, I will never get that feeling of pride knowing that my city has one of the best record shops in the UK. I will never get that sense of excitement of heading in to Selectadisc the weekend after payday, and being able to browse through the racks and racks of great music there to discover. RIP Selectadisc. 

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