"Bookshops and record shops come and go in London - and that includes chains as well as independents."
London record shops: Our Price Records and others
Bookshops and record shops come and go in London - and that includes chains as well as independents. Let London-RIP tell you one such story. Once upon a time there was a chain of record shops called HARLEQUIN RECORDS. They were not very exciting, but they were what we had in them days. Then, in 1971, a man called Gary Nesbitt opened a shop called TAPE REVOLUTION in Swiss Cottage. This was devoted to selling that miracle of sound recording, the eight track, as well as cassettes. When it became clear that these were not the future of rock ‘n’ roll, Tape Revolution opted to sell the tried and trusted vinyl record, and changed the name of the by then shops to OUR PRICE RECORDS. Our Price did rather well and its owners were emboldened to buy the Harlequin chain. The new Our Price chain did jolly well and expanded.
Eventually, Our Price owned literally hundreds of stores. Every high street had one and they won a kind of affection, despite the uninspired name. Thirty or so years on, the chain was bought by Virgin. It was a high street fixture by then, as immutable as Boots or WH Smith (which it was actually owned by when Virgin purchased it). Virgin promptly turned a lot of the Our Price shops into V SHOPS, which seemed to operate on the peculiar assumption that when you went out to buy a CD, what you actually wanted to do was go on the Internet or buy a mobile phone. Most of the shops were soon bought by the bizarrely-named SANITY (big in Australia) which sold them in 2003. And it came to pass that they did close down. And today… the stores are no more and the record shop is no longer a fixture of every high street. Now, what was all that about?