For The Record: Presto Classical, Leamington Spa

In our latest record shop interview, we chat to Presto Classical's Chris O'Reilly about the online boom, shoplifting clarinets and listening to Julie Andrews.

presto classical leamington spa

Name: Chris O'Reilly

Your shop: Presto Classical

How long have you been open?
Presto has existed as a shop in Leamington Spa for over 20 years, but we’ve moved and expanded many times over that period. We started the website 12 years ago and have just shipped our one millionth CD. Certainly wouldn’t have guessed that when we had just five orders in our first three months online!

What's the best recording in your shop at the moment?
I wouldn't like to say what the best recording is, but we’ve got a few favourites.  Currently, our web editing team are listening to Cecilia Bartoli's recent Norma whilst I’m enjoying the ravishing playing on the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Ivan Fischer in their new Wagner disc. On the shop floor they always enjoy Arthur Grumiaux and Herman Krebber's beautiful recording of the Bach Double Violin Concerto – unless it’s 5.30pm, when they’ll probably be listening to Julie Andrews!

What was the most memorable day of trading in your shop?
For me personally it had to be my very first day at Presto – September 11th 2001. We didn’t have a customer all afternoon, and it was only when I got home that I realised why.

Do you get angry if a customer files a Strauss record in the wrong place?
We never get angry! Although do try and put it back…

Have you ever had to wrestle a shoplifter to the floor?
Our customers are generally lovely, and we don’t have too much trouble with shoplifters – although we did once catch someone trying to hide a clarinet down his trousers.

Are there any records in your shop that you just can't get rid of?
There are a few discs hanging around that we’ve had for quite a few years, but they tend to find a loving home eventually. The internet is also quite good at clearing out old things, as when they get deleted we suddenly become one of the few people offering them.

What is the function of a good record shop nowadays?
Providing friendly, personal customer service is definitely key – nothing beats having a good browse and a chat with someone who loves music. Being happy to research and obtain recordings that aren't in stock also makes a big difference. Everyone who works here has a passion for music and I’m sure that is a key ingredient to our continued success.

How is the future looking for your business, given the current climate?
We’re looking good. The shop continues to provide a great and valuable experience for all our local customers, while the website does the same for those further afield. There are plenty of interesting new recordings to get behind and I can’t see this changing any time soon. I'm sure our web business will gradually become more digital, but that’s fine with me – it's the music we're interested in and we can sell that whatever format people want to listen to it on!

Visit Presto Classical's website here.

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