It’s just MVC repeating itself…

And so it was confirmed today – Fopp is dead. Internet rumours suggest that the staff were told in an email, yesterday afternoon, that they were out of work and would not be receiving their pay for June. A fairly shabby way to treat your staff, especially when they’ve been having to trot out nonsense excuses to the public for the last week.
I used to love Fopp. I first discovered it whilst at uni. The first few visits were slightly too overwhelming to result in actually spending all that much. That was a problem I soon ironed out and was frequently to be found exiting with £40 worth of CDs and books every couple of weeks. The nearby rival in Nottingham is ‘Selectadisc‘, who altered their pricing policy to be competitive against Fopp’s ‘pile it high, sell it low’ approach. It was at this point that I realised that if continued to do what I was doing – and, let’s face it, many other people in the city were doing the same – then one of my favourite record shops, Selectadisc, was losing previously guaranteed custom. This wasn’t so much of an issue while Fopp was still genuinely different to all of the big stores, but in the last few years it was becoming predictable and faceless. Far too much of the stock and pricing was interchangeable with HMV and Virgin. Vinyl disappeared from many of their stores and the few remaining bargains tended to be in the book section. My spending in Fopp tailed off dramatically, and while I’ve still used them in recent years (£25 last month on the Sly & The Family Stone reissues alone) it had lost that excitement factor that musos feel when going out record shopping.
My loyalties were even more torn in recent weeks when I found out about the plans for a new Fopp in the Eagle Centre redevelopment in Derby. As I may have mentioned in the past, I have an unhealthy love of Reveal Records in that their city. It’s like a big blanket in winter, and a chilled foreign beer in the summer. I can never buy only one thing in there, and their constant 2 for £20 and 2 for £18 offers (on vinyl as well as CD) ensure that each desired item is suitably paired off. I popped in today and spent twice as much as I had intended to. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The stock is varied, well-presented and competitively priced. They’ve got a healthy vinyl section and the shop is light and airy. It is, to my mind, the best record shop in the UK.
Another rumour that circulated the internet in recent times (and I restate that this is nowt but a rumour) was that there was a bonus available to Fopp staff in new branches, if they killed off the local indie store within months of opening. Now, this does sound rather like fanciful nonsense put about by those poor indie stores that are on their last legs, the length and breadth of the country, but it does fit with the increasingly sour image of Fopp in recent times.
I hope to see them breathe again in some capacity. If only so I can have one more visit. But it’s unlikely that it can be a going concern as a business. I can’t really envisage a time without physical record shops, but it’s clearly becoming harder and harder to even break even. I was worried the day that it was announced that Fopp had bought up the Music Zone stores and sadly those fears have proved to be justified.
They treated music fans well for a while. How about justice for the staff?
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