“Just about every record store I go into I still get that pang of anxiety – the guy behind the counter just staring at you,” says Perri Basile, the co-owner of boutique book and record shop Highgate Continental. “We’re always striving to make it as comfortable as possible.”
Basile and Alex Malkovic opened the store in Highgate three years ago after first trialling the concept in Subiaco. Reaching the end of their lease on Beaufort Street, and seeing a drop in retail trade and foot traffic in the area, the duo decided to make a move to Northbridge. It recently reopened above William Street Cycle Co.
“We both love the romanticised nature of the record store that’s hidden upstairs,” says Malkovic. “It’s a beautiful old building. It’s in keeping with the old space – nice white walls, Italian concrete. All things Mediterranean. That’s where the name came from, it paid homage to the continental roll and our love of European food culture.”
Initially known for servicing the local DJ scene, Highgate Continental’s mostly new vinyl selection covers a wide range of titles, from the current trend for re-issues, to obscure European pop from the likes of Estonia and Belgium.
“We didn’t want it to be like every other record store in Perth,” says Malkovic. “We didn’t want to be contrary for the sake of it, but there’s four other stores where you can get the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. We have a lot of world music: Afrobeat, Latin stuff, Japanese music, South American, jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop.”
The store is equipped with listening stations, and the duo promises it won’t be an intimidating experience for first-time shoppers. Visitors are encouraged to spend time listening to vinyl and reading books – there’ll be no daunting stares from behind the till.
The store’s book selection is also curated; there’s a focus on contemporary art, design and architecture, photography, and cultural theory.
“There’s a lot of art and photography books,” says Malkovic. “Nice coffee table books. We started doing food journals and food books last year. There’s a big emphasis on the presentation, how it’s been published.”
Continental rolls (a crusty, generally white bread roll often stuffed with deli meats, cheese and sometimes salad) are also due to make their apt reappearance, alongside other snacks.
“In this day and age, stores like this exist because we want to try and build a community. It’s like a lifestyle we’re trying to sell,” says Malkovic. “You come down, have a chat, crack a beer or have a cup of tea and a snack with a bunch of friends or by yourself.”
Level 1, 312b William Street, Northbridge
Tue to Fri 10am–5.30pm