For The Record: The Gramophone Emporium, Edinburgh
22 July 2013, 11:30
This time, we head north of the border to Edinburgh's Gramophone Emporium, experts and enthusiasts of all things shellac and classical, and chat to owner Billy Gray about the rise in demand for physical products. Oh, and cake.
Name: Billy Gray
Your shop: The Gramophone Emporium
How long have you been open?
The Gramophone Emporium was founded in 1975 but moved to its present location in 2010. The shop now specialises in reconditioned wind-up gramophones (mainly HMV) and 78rpm records of all types – including a large range of operatic, classical instrumental, jazz and dance band discs.
What's the best recording in your shop at the moment?
Difficult to choose. In the classical field, current favourites are any recordings by Francesco Tamagno; the Aida Final Duet by Caruso and Gadski; and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto by Joseph Szigeti.
What was the most memorable day of trading in your shop?
Probably re-opening day at the new shop when a customer, who is a master baker, brought in a cake.
Do you get angry if a customer files a Strauss record in the wrong place?
Yes it can be annoying, but we try not to show our anger to the customer. Given the large number of 78s in the shop misplacing records is quite easy. Sometimes we know we have a particular contralto recording but it is not where it should be – it usually turns up eventually among the baritones.
Have you ever had to wrestle a shoplifter to the floor?
Not so far. Our shop is too heavy to lift!
Are there any records in your shop that you just can't get rid of?
Because we try to stock a very wide range of discs, quite a lot lies on or shelves for some time. However, we are often asked unexpectedly for relatively obscure recordings which we thought might never sell.
What is the function of a good record shop nowadays?
To provide a personal service in helping people find what they want. We encourage browsing and enjoy chatting with all potential customers even if they have no immediate interest in buying anything.
How is the future looking for your business, given the current climate?
Who knows. But the shop seems to provide a local service and the website/internet sales a wider service which just about keeps our heads above water! We have noticed an increasing interest in customers who, having heard a recording on the web, are looking for a 'physical' copy of the music. We hope to upgrade the website in the near future to provide better information and a wider choice of what we have available.