A WINCHESTER music lover opened the city’s first independent record store in 20 years.
Elephant Records moved to Kings Walk to capitalize on vinyl’s remarkable comeback.
Alex Brown hopes the store can be a spiritual home for the city’s sleepy alternative music scene.
The 37-year-old, from Harestock, was voluntarily fired from Winchester Discovery Center last year after 15 years in his post.
He took his vast collection of hip-hop and dance albums, rented a unit on the shopping street, and began bringing in new and used inventory.
Now he sells records and CDs ranging from classic rock and pop to jazz, techno, blues and ambient soundscapes.
âIt was something I had always wanted to do,â he said. “I’m really passionate about music and thought Winchester would need a good independent record store. Thought it might work in Winchester.”
Vinyl sales hit 2.1 million last year, a record high in 21 years fueled by older listeners rediscovering classic records and trendy young people looking for an alternative to online streaming.
âIt’s a real mix of people coming in,â Mr. Brown said. “Lots of students, lots of older men, lots of people who just come and talk about music.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, his bestseller to date is Sleaford Mods, whose 2015 Key Markets breakthrough introduced young listeners to the boom of ’70s punk.
Elephant is Winchester’s first vinyl specialty store since Venus Records on St George’s Street, which closed in the 1990s.
The only other dealers today are charity stores, Kings Walk Market Hall and HMV, which put wax back on their shelves when they moved to the Brooks Center in 2014.
Mr Brown believes that a network of stores and venues could spark a stronger alternative scene in Winchester.
He discusses potential collaborations with the city’s premier venue for young groups, the Railway Inn.