Rough Trade Open Up In Nottingham

Photos: Shaun Gordon
Interview: Paul Klotschkow
Wednesday 10 December 2014
reading time: min, words

Stephen Godfroy, director and co-owner of Rough Trade, is credited with revitalising the company after joining a decade ago. Firstly he introduced the subscription-based ‘Album Club’ and then helped develop Rough Trade East, the company’s flagship store on trendier-than-thou Brick Lane. After setting up Rough Trade New York last October, the independent record store has opened its first UK store outside of London on Broad Street. He came to Nottingham for the store’s opening, so we nipped in for a chat…


Why did you choose Nottingham to open a new store over other cities like Manchester?
We’ve lots of UK cities in mind, but we have to find the right properties in the right locations. The Nottingham store is perfect for us, not being on a generic high street yet central and visible enough to be at the heart of the city’s retail and cultural activity. Added to the appeal of the building and location, Nottingham has esteemed independent music retail history, so we’re confident that by opening here we’re among friends and like-minded culture lovers.

How long were you planning the Nottingham store and how many locations in the city did you consider?
It took us a matter of months to decide and open on Broad Street. This wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support from a raft of local organisations and companies, from the Creative Quarter to Nottingham City Council, to Severn Trent Water.

You’ve said that the new store will be “more international” than your London and New York stores. What do you mean by that?
The ambition of the store merits global attention, attracts global partnerships, attracts global artists. There is no store in the UK like Rough Trade Nottingham in what it provides as a whole, gathering together a brave collection of retail experiences under one roof, celebrating community, culture and discovery.

How much floor space will be given to CDs and how much to vinyl?
There will be a curated selection of all the most exciting music, newly released exclusives, and timeless classics. Our vinyl selection will be at least on par, in volume, with our CD selection.

Aside from selling music what else can we expect from the store?
Come and visit us to find out. Just remember to visit all floors, and take your time.

All of the best record stores engage and support the local music community. How will you guys be doing this?
The store is run by a team of talented local people, and will be defined by the local people that visit. Being a canvas for artistic expression as much as a platform for local creative output and independent thinking, each Rough Trade store organically develops its own identity that’s not just a reflection of the local community, but one that’s entwined and eventually part of the local community.

Rough Trade East has been enormously successful. Why did you decide to open a store in 2007 when CD sales were in decline and record stores all over the UK were closing?
The media is awash with bullshit and sensationalist generalisations, so opening Europe’s largest independent music store at a time when headlines spelt the end of physical music retail, was bound to provoke. Paying more attention to people and less on media, we had every confidence that what we were doing was the right thing, and thankfully, our instinct and trust in the public wasn’t let down.

What type of person do you think the Rough Trade shops appeal to?
Curious minds of all ages and taste.

Before moving to Nottingham, how aware were you of Nottingham’s record store heritage? Stores that are now long gone include Selectadisc, Wayahead, Arcade Records; The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks obscenity trial involving Virgin Records…
Of course, we’re incredibly proud to continue the tradition of Nottingham independent music retail, following in the footsteps of the legendary Selectadisc. It’s a huge part of why we chose to open here.

The store is only going to be a few doors down from The Music Exchange. Are you worried about taking away customers from them?
We’ve spoken a great deal to them and look forward to collaborating, as fellow music retailers. It might seem odd to those outside of independent music retail, but we’re a tight community, with a great deal of respect for one another. You can expect to see Music Exchange events happening at Rough Trade.

Will you be teaming up with The Music Exchange for events such as Record Store Day?
Most certainly, yes.

Have you had chance to do much in Nottingham away from setting up the new store?
Personally speaking, I’ve spent most my time in Nottingham onsite, pouring blood, sweat and tears into making this the store it deserves to be, along with the other staff. When not onsite, I’m mostly on foot, getting a sense of the city, the streets, people watching, attending meetings with local businesses, and eating and drinking across the city when I get the chance.

Why should LeftLion readers shop in Rough Trade?
To satisfy their curiosity in life, to celebrate the wonder of music and culture, and to spend time with like-minded independent thinkers who aren’t afraid to say and do what they like.

A brief timeline of Rough Trade (the record store and the label)...

1976 - The first Rough Trade is set up at 202 Kensington Park Road in the Ladbroke Grove area of London by Geoff Travis.

1977 - Rough Trade releases its first record, a 7” by French punk band Metal Urbain with the catalogue number RT 001, after the band pop in to the shop asking for advice.

1978 - Rough Trade, in collaboration with independent record stores around the UK, set-up a record distribution network called The Cartel that enabled small record labels to distribute releases nationally.

1978 - Geoff Travis sets up the Rough Trade record label.

1982 - With financial problems threatening the survival of the shop, the shop and label separate, becoming two distinct companies. Geoff Travis takes the label business and three shop employees take over the record store after buying the stock for £7,000.

1982 - The shop moves around the corner to a new location at 130 Talbot Road.

1988 - A second Rough Trade shop opens in the basement of Slam City Skates in Neal’s Yard, Covent Gardens and will be there for almost twenty years.

2007 - The Covent Garden store serves its last customer.

2007 - In the intervening years, branches in San Francisco, Tokyo and Paris have all opened and closed. The closure of the Paris store almost brings the company to collapse before new backers come to the rescue and stump-up the cash for the opening of Rough Trade East in the year Fopp went into administration and music sales were falling. Designed by architect David Adjaye, the 5,000 square-foot store is based in a disused brewery on Brick Lane.

2013 - Rough Trade NYC opens on 25 November in the hipster enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

2014 - On 24 November Rough Trade open their first UK store outside of London in Nottingham on Broad Street.

Rough Trade Nottingham is now open, Broad Street, NG1 3AJ.

Rough Trade website

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