Ten years ago, if you asked anyone in the music business about the future of vinyl, the stock response would be: “It doesn’t have one.” Average fans didn’t need physical versions of the music they listened to. Advances in hardware and software meant DJs could use CDs and digital files as easily as they once played records. The days of the 12” weren’t numbered; they were over.
Except they weren’t. The vinyl revival has been well documented, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising to see record stores popping up like mushrooms all across the city.
The most recent is Collingwood’s Skydiver, owned by three DJs with a solid pedigree in both business and music. Mark Free is the man behind the Daydreams parties and Everyday Coffee, the cafe he founded on Johnston Street in 2013.
“I had my eye on the space for nearly nine months,” says Free.” I’d done the inspection and kept scratching my chin, wondering what I could do with it. I knew it couldn’t be another coffee shop because it’s too close to home, but didn’t have the means or the knowhow to pull off a record store by myself.”
A chance conversation with Wale and Moore at one of his parties found Free the perfect partners. “We were chatting to Mark at Daydreams and I mentioned we were on the lookout for a spot for a record store, and it all came together,” says Wale.
Plan made and lease signed, the three started work, constructing the store’s vital elements with plywood to give it a warm, homey vibe. From the street, listening stations along the front window leave you in no doubt as to its core function.
“It’s a DJ’s store, essentially,” says Wale. “We sell a lot of LPs, house, techno, Italo, disco … ”
“… all the sections I’d go to in a record store,” Moore laughs. “We don’t have 10,000 records. Because of the size of the space, we want to change the stock pretty often. I like stores where you can go through everything fairly quickly, but when you come back, it’s all different.”
With Plug Seven opening just up the road, Hub 301 just down it and stalwarts such as Northside and The Searchers not far away, the Skydiver crew is well aware the area is not exactly underserved by vinyl purveyors.
“We feel it works in everyone’s favour that there’s so many stores around here,” says Wale. “If you go record shopping you want to visit as many places as possible in the one day, rather than hitting one shop then trekking to another one an hour away. Especially if you’re from out of town.”
“Everyone’s supportive – staff from other stores have dropped by to say Hey. They’re excited we’re here as well,” says Moore. “If people come in asking for stuff we don’t stock, we can point them to another store that’s more geared to what they’re looking for.”
Beyond the shelves full of disco, house, Italo and Balearic sounds, the Skydiver counter sports a record de-warper; a Japanese-made contraption sourced from the UK. One of only a few in the country, the machine is designed to do what it says on the label, and customers are welcome to bring in their own warped records and give them a new lease on life.
“The whole concept of DJing is to share music with people, and that’s another reason we wanted to open a record store,” says Wale. “Shopping for records can be a bit private for some people, so we don’t want to feel like we’re being pushy; going, ‘You need this record!’ We want to give people space to find what they’re looking for on their own, and if they want guidance, we can offer it.”
167A Johnston Street, Collingwood
Tue to Thu, Sat 12pm–7pm