Victorian Arcade is celebrated for offering a plethora of independent niche traders under one roof. One such example is LP's Paradise – a record store which has become a haven for the music lovers of Walsall who enjoy the crackle of needle on vinyl.
We sat down with Lisa Powell, owner of LP's Paradise, to discuss why there has been a U-turn in favour of vinyl.
Lisa - in 2014 UK vinyl sales passed a million for the first time since 1997 – what do you put this down to?
While lots of people see the future of music as becoming digital, with online streaming, vinyl is enjoying a renaissance and the sales figures back this up. This could be because with vinyl, you get a tangible and authentic piece of history.
Music is such an evocative medium and I think that's what's missing from the music that is stored and accessed virtually: vinyl is tactile and full of soul, compared to pressing a button on your computer or phone.
Can you explain why you wanted to open LP's Paradise and not be an online dealer?
I opened my shop about three years ago, in July 2013, after receiving help from the council's Innovation Fund. I'm passionate about vinyl: I love the artwork on the big covers, sliding the record out of its sleeve and the sound as the needle hits the record. The shop is for likeminded people who love the thrill of hunting for records as much as I do!
Vinyl is something physical and to be able to go into a shop and play out a record, in order to hear its quality, is really special. As soon as I opened in Victorian Arcade it was clear to me that vinyl is making a major comeback. My records don't sit gathering dust, there's a really high turnover of stock.
I've joined in with Record Store Day – the annual event to celebrate independent vinyl stockists. Previously I had local bands playing in my shop and competitions running throughout the day – the one we just held in April went really well – from 3:45am we had 25-30 people queuing up in the snow for our goody bags, so I was delighted with the response, and there was an amazing atmosphere all day.
Who is your typical customer?
We have a lot of vinyl 'superfans' and collectors who wile away the hours, perusing the racks for sought-after limited editions in mint condition. But there's also a lot of younger people buying vinyl now, too – we are noticing a lot of college students coming in.
What records are most in demand in Walsall right now?
It's mainly rock albums, not chart singles. There's most demand for classic albums like Led Zeppelin and Bowie – customers are buying albums which enable them to listen to music how the artists intended for it to be heard – in context with other songs, not in isolation.
Aside from vinyl, what else do you offer customers at LP's paradise?
The shop is the first of its kind in the area and sells secondhand LPs plus CDs and band merchandise, such as t-shirts. We also sell record players – we find that people buying record players are often those who have given up vinyl years ago and then decided to start collecting again.
Where to find LP's Paradise:
Address: Unit 2 The Victorian Arcade, Walsall WS1 1RE
Telephone: 07876 821791