Colin Trueman doesn’t see lack of space as a limitation at VOD Music
by Jonathan Morrow
In 2009, Graham Jones came out with the insightful book Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops? A few years later it became a documentary featuring artists including Johnny Marr and Billy Bragg. Both the book and film analyze the demise of the independent record store in the UK over the past 30 years or so — from 2,000 such stores in the 1980s to a depressing 269 in 2009.
A revised edition of the book, published in 2014, noted a partial reversal in the trend. A number of small independents, started by people with a passion for vinyl, began cropping up around the nation. One of these was VOD Music, in the town of Mold, North Wales. In 2015, it was recognized by the organizers of Record Store Day as the smallest record shop in the UK, with a floor space of just 67 square feet.
But owner Colin Trueman doesn’t see the store’s space as a limitation. It means a regular turnover of titles, and more than anything else it reinforces the idea of the record shop as a meeting place, something that online retailers can’t offer.
“People prefer to go to local shops and have a chat,” says Trueman. “It’s a big social thing, really.”
Despite the small area, the store is strategically packed with CDs, T-shirts, music magazines, and memorabilia, along with a decent selection of vinyl, with an emphasis on genres from prog rock and indie to blues and folk.
Before the store’s opening, Trueman, a former IT worker, had been involved in organizing record fairs in the area, attracting some of the top dealers from around the nation. These fairs now number seven or so a year, with one coinciding with Record Store Day every April.
For the past two years, Trueman has seen the lines start up at 2 a.m. and reach more than 100 people by the store’s opening time of 9 a.m. — and he’s managed to keep his customers satisfied. This reminds us both of the good old days. “It was always nice walking home with a bag with a record in it,” says Trueman.
Trueman’s son, Tom, is also a champion of vinyl. He arranges a Bring Your Own Vinyl Night in a local pub, at which anybody is invited to step up to the decks for fifteen minutes and play music of any genre. The mix is eclectic, energetic and often educational, with its varied mix of everything from jazz and punk to soul and electronica.
Asked about the future of the store, Trueman says, “It’s quite rosy at the moment. I don’t see it going any time soon.”