The best record shops in the North West
23rd April 2020
The North West has been an undisputed music hub for quite some time, with some of the biggest British names coming out of the North. So, it makes sense really that record shop culture is going through a bit of a moment.
We work with a lot of record shops and love the passion that goes into each shop and how each one is unique in its own way. This got us thinking about highlighting some of our favourite ones we’ve visited. And because we strongly believe in supporting local, we thought we’d start off with some of the best in our neck of the woods. There are so many record shops to pick from in the North, but in the interest of time and attention spans we’ve whittled it down to 5 –
Loafers – Halifax
Just down the road from us is Loafers, a great little independent that isn’t just a record shop but is also a café, wine bar, art space and deli. Loafers is based in Halifax, which itself is becoming a bit of a music mecca, with some great bands and a flourish music culture coming out of the former mill town. In fact, some people are even hailing it as the Shoreditch of the North.
What’s more, Loafers is nestled in the Grade 1 listed and jaw-dropping Piece Hall, built in 1779 and recently refurbished to the tune of 19m. The shop opened in 2017, the same time that Piece Hall reopened to the public. The historic building is the sole survivor of the great 18th century Halifax cloth halls and is now full of independent shops and eateries. In summer, it hosts live concerts, with the likes of Manic Street Preachers and Kaiser Chiefs scheduled to play.
Loafers is one of the best record shops for crate diggers who fancy a day out in a historic spot and a good chat with the shop’s regulars. The record shop is a perfect mix between a music hub and a social, community-led space where the owners encourage all things music and support local.
The quirky record shop has thought carefully about everything it sells, from the wine that’s made out of gooseberries cultivated in nearby Lunddenden Valley to the halloumi made by a Syrian refugee turned businesswoman just up the road. It has hand-picked limited edition artwork adorning the walls and the coffee is freshly ground as well as roasted by local company Darkwoods. The place basically oozes quality and Halifax charm, helped along by the regular events Loafers run, including wine or coffee tasting, open mic, beer vinyl nights and live gigs. A great record shop if you don’t just want to hunt for LPs but sip on a glass of local wine, have a chat and visit a historic building.
Vanishing Point Records – Chesterfield
Hidden away in Theatre Yard, a quaint little passageway full of cafes and bakeries, it would be easy to miss this gem out in Derbyshire. But it’s definitely a record shop to hunt down and check out if you are in the area or fancy a day trip.
Corey Lavender, owner of Vanishing Point Records, set up shop after quitting his 9-5 and walking across Spain, where he had a light bulb moment and realised that he’d love to open a record shop. Come to the shop and he might just make you a cup of tea and tell you about it. Since he’s built up a treasure trove of second-hand gems and music-related artwork at Vanishing Point Records. He’s also got a great online shop if you aren’t going to be anywhere near Chesterfield any time soon.
And when you step inside you definitely feel like you are in an eclectic and cosy little world. Artwork and music-based cartoons run throughout the space, and the mezzanine is dotted with fairy lights and brown leather sofas. In fact, the raised level is where Corey hosts his regular music events and live gigs as well as his radio show, Matlock Free Radio, an independent commercial-free radio station and DJ collective that he co-runs with other local music nuts. He even has t-shirts designed by local artists, including a band from just up the road, the Arctic Monkeys. Basically, if you fancy a trip out, want to find some bargains and rarities, or just have a good natter while rifling through a great selection of vinyl, Vanishing Point Records is definitely one to put on your list.
During Covid-19 lockdown, Vanishing Point records has put a large array of his records onto his discogs page as well as selling vouchers via his website and on social media. Corey told Covers33 “I’m quite overwhelmed actually with how much goodwill has been out there. I was even put on Tim Burgess’ (from the Charlatans) website for online vinyl shops to buy from during lockdown.”
Vinyl Tap – Huddersfield
Founded in 1986, Vinyl Tap has been on quite a journey. From record shop to online only sales to then opening up a record shop again in 2013. Vinyl Tap is now based in a converted Victorian building opposite Huddersfield train station and has one of Britain’s largest collections of records. With over 30,000 7 inch singles alone and tens of thousands of LPs.
Vinyl Tap’s shop (and online store) is well known among hardcore vinyl collectors because it specialises in rare collectibles for CD, Vinyl and promos. It is the go-to place for hard to find and out of date rarities. In fact, some very famous artists have been through its doors trying to scour the shelves, including Van Morrison. It also took a record amount for a 7 inch UK sleeve version of punk band XTC Science, which a Japanese customer bought for an eye-watering £4,500. Owner Tony told the Examiner Live “We’ve sold records to artists who’ve lost their own records. We’ve even provided big labels with their original artwork for a reissue or compilation”.
And although it has seen some big names walk through the door, Vinyl Tap remained relatively under the radar until 2017, when BBC6 broadcast from the shop during Record Store Day. Now, people from all over come to scour the two floor crate digger’s dream of a shop, coming away with either £1 bargains or LPs they’ve been trying to hunt down for years. And not forgetting the shop’s regular live gigs hosted in their huge downstairs room, which has managed to pull in impressive names, such as Razorlight, who play to intimate crowds and die-hard regulars.
Vinyl Resting Place – Manchester
Manchester is full of great record shops and is a well-trodden vinyl hunting city. There are of course the obvious record shops to hit but if you are looking for something a bit off the beaten track, Vinyl Resting Place, tucked away in the Northern Quarter, is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for second-hand records.
This vinyl haven, set up like a pub snug, is based in the alternative shopping den Affleck’s Palace. Since it opened in 2014, the little treasure trove has gone from strength to strength, expanding twice. The record shop now lives on the 3rd floor of one of Manchester’s most famous independent haunts. And if your knees can withstand the stairs, it’s definitely worth the uphill music trek. The best thing about Vinyl Resting Place is that it’s an all-rounder with a great mix of second-hand rarities, classics and pound bargains, the perfect place for the seasoned record hunter or even the keen newbie.
Definitely come here if you want to find great second-hand vinyl on a budget and have a joke with the owner Alistair Hall, who also happens to have a Rain Man type knowledge of his stock. And once you’ve scoured through all the boxes, there’s an independent café right next door, if you want to put your feet up and take a break between record shop visits. Not to mention all the other little independent shops in Affleck’s alternative shopping centre.
Released Records – Leeds
Another music hotspot and record shop hub is Leeds. One of our favourite shops is Released Records which is tucked away on the top floor of Leeds Corn Exchange. As soon as you walk in you immediately feel at home, thanks to its vintage armchairs, piles of music magazines and DJ decks which have regular DJs streaming out live music while you browse.
This shop also has a speciality – underground left-field sounds. So, if you are fed up of sifting through crates and finding the same old classics, or if you are trying to find a really specific and unusual record, definitely come here. The record shop has a very eclectic range but it especially stocks underground rock, dance and hip hop. And just when Released Records couldn’t get cool enough, it also has a record label under the same name which supports underground music, often from the local area. And if you want to have a listen to some of sort of music the label is releasing, you can also buy them in their shop – perfect.
**** Since Covid-19 it has obviously been impossible to visit your favourite local gem but a lot of record shops are selling their stock online, so do give them a gander and help support local during such uncertain times. And as soon as they open again, make sure to check out our favourite record shops in the North-West!
Think we might have left a record shop out of our list? Let us know on the comments below! We love highlighting local independents that are doing things a bit differently, we are also looking to feature more record shops in the coming months, so stay tuned! And if you can’t wait until then, we have more about music and vinyl on our blog or sign up to our newsletter below to receive them straight in your inbox every month.