Overpriced, disinterested staff, out of stock items and a general feeling of inevitable closure. Welcome to the wonderful world of your HMV.

Perhaps you live in one of the few towns to still have an HMV after the massive store closures that swept across England in 2018, killing off sites in Ayr, Bath, Kent, Bristol, Manchester, Chichester, Watford, Exeter, Tunbridge Wells, Uxbridge, and Wimbledon (did we miss any, Glasgow?)

You will have probably found that the void that they’ve left has been filled by a number of independent “real world” record stores, tucked down side streets that usually smell of dusty cupboards and pot smoke. Busy little stores run by cheerful owners that will inevitably remember your name, your favourite band and will have sometimes kept back the odd album or two to dangle in front of you, making removing the cash from your wallet an almost pleasant experience.

IMG 5323Vinyl is here to stay, and shops are popping up all over the place, run the old fashioned, pre-internet way of one-to-one customer service. They are fed by a steady stream of loyal patrons who will happily spend countless hours rummaging through the colourful racks while enthusiastically chatting away with child like excitement about the merits of a 4th mono pressing of Sgt Peppers surrounded by like minded people with a genuine interest in music while Springsteen rattles out of the speakers spilling out onto the pavement outside.

Not like those wage slaves over there at HMV, only there for the money...

But you’d be wrong. If you’re lucky enough to still have an HMV in your town, you’ll know that the staff are mostly a pretty knowledgeable and friendly bunch who have an honest passion for what they’re doing. Sure, you’ll find the odd disinterested employee who couldn’t give a toss about the fact Marvin Gaye was killed by his dad but then does Rob down the road at One Beat Records give a f**k about the latest Billie Eilish release other than the fact your going to give him £24.99 for it.

IMG 5325HMV has more buying power than all the One Beat’s, Store 45’s And Top Hat Records will ever have; you walk into any HMV during a sale and they'll beat our new vinyl prices hands down every single time as they’ve got the numbers. Remember that HMV started with a single Oxford Street store in 1921 and grew to 100s (there are still 113 stores) - they understood what their customers wanted and provided it for decades.

There can be no denying that HMV was on the ropes for a few years between 2012-2017/18, empty racks and angry staff don’t make for a harmonious shopping experience. To everyone it looked like it was game over, however skip forwards 18 months and most HMVs are now fully stocked again with increased areas for vinyl and HiFi equipment, definitely a sign of the the resurgence in vinyl sales. More importantly people are queuing up again to buy Kate Bush Boxsets and Pink Floyd Mugs. 

Our HMV in Plymouth is still on the ground floor with its bright pink neon signs and rock music beaming out like a beacon from the double wide front. Brightly lit and always well stocked with the latest releases, dread-locked hippie chicks and bespectacled university students float around, filling the racks with CDs, T-shirts, and vinyl.

IMG 5324They smile and nod as you walk past with arms full of goodies trying to work out in your head how much this is all going to cost you. Yes the loyalty card isn’t worth the plastic its printed on at the moment and perhaps Maureen’s choice of Wet Wet Wet wouldn’t be my choice on an early Saturday morning,  but she’s smiling she rings up my Cure and Kacey Musgraves LPs, filling my little canvas bag with goodies and chatting about the Maxinquaye album I bought 3 weeks ago.

Whilst HMV has had some obvious problems and perhaps the prices can be a bit eye watering at times, but the alternatives are far worse for all of us, I’d much rather see an HMV as I walk through the shopping mall than yet another awful Primark!

NB: HMV was rescued by Canadian Doug Putman who owns Sunrise Records, outbidding Mike Ashley / Sport Direct. Ashley recently saved House of Fraser; have you been in a House Of Fraser store recently? - What a train wreck, just imagine what he could have done to poor old HMV!?

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