Meet Stu Sheard, 29 of Darton, Barnsley. In just over a month’s time, he will be the owner of Barnsley newest record store, Debut Records. Up until a few months ago, you would have seen him working in the Barnsley branch of HMV. Tomorrow, after about six months of planning, he finally gets the keys to what will eventually be Debut Records on The Arcade, located in a unit which used to be home to Lucy’s Boutique and sits just a few doors away from what used to be the 1970’s record shop, Neal’s.
Over tea and coffee at The Civic Cafe Bar, I met with Stu to chat about the record shop. First I asked what he plans to do when he gets the keys. All excited he says, ‘I’ll be in at the weekend, measuring up and seeing what needs to be ripped art and what needs redecorating.’ I wondered what we can expect from the look of the shop. He continues, ‘I’m having racking for the record built especially for the shop, but in regards to the look, I’d like it to be simple, black and white interior, vinyls hung in the window.’
It was back in January that Stu and the rest of his HMV colleagues found out about the company going into administration. When had he started planning all of this? ‘It’s been about six months now, but a lot of that has been waiting for replied from solicitors and estate agents and all of the related paperwork. In January, when we found out about going into administration, I started to think about the possibility of opening a record shop in Barnsley at some point but didn’t act upon it. I tried to stay positive and hoped that the Barnsley HMV would stay open. But as soon as we found out that we were going to close, I started to build up contacts for suppliers, record labels, shop fitters etc and just get as much information about it as possible. That’s when the ball started rolling.’‘I’ve just signed up for an account with supplier for weekly new releases, but I’ve been buying in stock for the couple of months. I’ve had some of it for so long now that I don’t want to part with it,’ he jokes. ‘I also now have an account with GB Posters in Sheffield. They supply HMV and the Barnsley shop did really well with them, especially with teenagers. I’m also looking into getting a line of t-shirts but picking the right bands is difficult – you don’t want to end up with unsold stock because you’ve picked the wrong bands. I am looking at potentially getting a Debut Records t-shirt and bag too.’
I wanted to find out a little more about the kind of music he will be selling. ‘Indie, metal, punk, electronic, rock. Someone did contact me asking if I was going to stock run of the mill new releases and I will. I’ll have most new releases as and when they come out, but many of them won’t be restocked once they’ve sold, especially the more novel pop and dance records. I do plan to cater for more niche tastes – or at least niche for Barnsley. People need to know that if there is something that they want, they are more than welcome to ask and we’ll get it in for them, as we’d like to try to cater for real music lovers and their tastes.’
I asked him if he knew much about Neal’s Records which used to be on the Arcade. ‘It would be great to have some kind of listening post in the shop. My mum was telling me about the phone booth style listening posts that there used to be in Neal’s Records. Music lovers in Barnsley have amazing memories of their favourite record shops, especially Casa Disco.’
As we sit outside The Civic, he looks around, over at Lucorum. ‘It’ll be great to do some cross promotion with the shops around here. Them inside Lucorum, the new tattoo studio. It’s going to be great being opposite Cafe Aroma too. And you know, I’m certain that having a music shop on The Arcade will bring more people down and help other businesses. Maybe it will encourage more people to start their own businesses up too.’ Stu has just the kind of optimism that is needed right now.
The big question is when does Debut Records open its doors? ‘No set date yet, but I hope to open by the end of June, the first week of July. I’m thinking about possible opening events too. It would be nice to coincide with the opening of Experience Barnsley too, but we’ll see how it goes.’
I’m pleased to announce that Stu will be contributing Record of the Week articles for Alternative Barnsley once the store is open and of course, we will let you know as soon as there is an opening date.
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In the mean time, have a gander at this. I wanted to find out a little bit about Stu’s own taste in music, so asked him about a few of his favourite records…
#1 What was the first record you bought?
I’d never heard of Everything But The Girl before they dominated the charts with their single Missing. Walking Wounded was their 9th and most successful album back in 1996. I was 13 and I loved the laid back electronic feel of the album. The best track Wrong.
#2 One thing record collectors love is album artwork. Sometimes they will buy solely for the artwork rather than the music. What is your favourite album artwork or packaging?
Lets face it, all of Bjork’s album artwork is pretty amazing. Biophilia is about the biological connection between humans and the natural world and it comes across in her music and the artwork. The Icelandic songstress never fails to impress.
#3 You also DJ and so you’re used to playing records to get others into a good mood, but what’s your favourite party record?
Ah, Fountains of Wayne and Stacy’s Mom just reminds me of my teen days, where punk pop was taking over. Ten years later and this song never gets old. The only thing that does is the guy singing along to it.
#4 What is your favourite record that no other bugger has heard of?
A remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 album with Jamie xx doing a fine job. I’m not sure if anyone has heard it but if they haven’t, they should.
#5 You obviously heard a lot of the records released this year, what with working in HMV and slowly building up your stockpile for Debut Records. What is your favourite record of the year so far?
John Grants first album Queen of Denmark came with critical success, so his 2nd album had some living up to do. Well he succeeded with his 80s tinged electronic Pale Green Ghosts, its a worthy contender for album of the year… However, I’ve not listened to the new Queens of the Stone Age album yet.