Since we’ve started this bi-weekly blog installment, the phone lines have been ringing off the hook with accolades and requests to be featured and even though we have so many American stores left to cover, we had to face the reality that this blog is internationally renowned. Thus we found ourselves thinking, “Hell, why don’t we ask some stores what’s shaking on the overseas scene?”
So rather than go the extra mile, I simply did my normal C-Average work and passed the job on to someone else. That someone was Britain’s own “Judge,” whom you may recognize as a frequent poster on this here blog. So here goes. God save the Queen, and all that. Take it away, Judge.
We may be in the middle of a recession over here on British soil, but thankfully there are still some folks willing to part with their hard earned cash, keep us in a job and the stores alive. Kristina Records opened less than a year ago and is having a positive start. Located on Stoke Newington Road in Dalston, London, Jack Rollo and Co. took the brave move to set up shop and fulfill a lifelong dream; a curated store that specializes in new and old vinyl across all genres.
1. Tell us briefly about your store.
We started Kristina 8 months ago, after a year or so of planning. We felt that Dalston needed a record shop and had a really clear idea of how we wanted it to be: friendly, vinyl only, and totally curated (IE: not full of the same bargain records you see everywhere). We sell both new and secondhand records. We’re pretty much across the board in terms of genre, but there’s some things we concentrate on more: Deep house and techno, indie-pop, post-punk, industrial and experimental stuff, psych, world music etc because that’s where our interest and knowledge lies. We also do the occasional in-store gig and try to as much as possible to promote independent DIY labels and artists.
2. What got you into the independent record store business?
All three of us had worked for other shops for years and wanted to do something for ourselves. Speaking personally, I’ve been buying records and going to gigs since I was 12, so working in a record shop thinking and talking about music all day long was always the dream!
3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
I really love Monorail and Volcanic Tongue in Glasgow, Academy in Brooklyn, and Soul Jazz, Phonica, Flashback and Second Layer in London.
4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
So far so good. We’ve had a really good response and already seem to have built up a solid customer base that keeps growing. At the moment the whole thing feels really positive. We all come form a secondhand background so the new records have been a steep learning curve but i feel like we’re getting there!
5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
I feel like all the shops that are thriving are ones that have a really strong identity, a really strong sense of what they’re stocking and why they’re stocking it.
6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
Being situated where we are its been really easy to deal direct with some of the great DIY labels that are based locally and meet the people who are making and putting out the new music we love. As far a instores go, we’ve had some great ones so far: Veronica Falls, Raime, Golden Grrls, Proper Ornaments, Comet Gain, Ital, Beautiful Swimmers, Novella and loads more.
7. Why do we need record stores?
Because shopping online is lonely.
8. What kind of taco is your favourite?
I once had an amazing one in Queens with steak and loads of radishes. I still think about it.
9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
I’ve been listening to loads of Television Personalities and Robyn Hitchcock again recently, and I dearly love Comet Gain, having them play in our shop was totally excellent.
10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
I guess its when someone finds something they’ve always hoped to but never expected to, that’s always great.
11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
In the short term we need to build on what we’ve got, we’re going online properly in the next few weeks so it’ll be good to step things up as far as mail order is concerned. Long term we’ve got lots of ideas. It would be great to put some records out, maybe reissue some of the stuff we love, doing instores has given me a taste for putting bands on so maybe we might start doing that somewhere locally.