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Heartland Records

Paul Cook, owner and operator of Heartland Records in West Melbourne (literally right across the road from the Queen Vic Market), has seen International Record Store Day become just a touch commercialised over the five years of its existence, but ultimately feels that the day is still a very positive and worthwhile exercise for an industry that has copped a fair hiding over recent years.

“It’s normally the biggest day of the year, which is a good thing,” he begins. “It’s been getting a bit big for its boots, so who knows how it’s going to go in future years. It’s getting a bit corporate, but it’s definitely the biggest day of the year for us. Well it has been in the past.”

 

Like most record stores around the globe who celebrate the day, Paul has some special things planned for the occasion, including some live bands squeezing into his confined premises and playing a live set, and a few special discounts on his merchandise.

 

“We’ve got The Wardens and My Left Boot playing, which to some people might seem a bit unbelievable, since the whole shop is full up. But we make heaps of space for that, so no panic there. We’ve got discounted stuff, we’ve got quite a bit of stuff coming in. We’ve always got plenty of stuff anyway," he says.

 

Paul has had his store in West Melbourne for almost two decades, but a rather unsentimental landlord is to prevent him from celebrating the 20 year milestone. He is happy with his choice of relocation though.

 

“We’ve been here 19 years, and it would be 20 years in November,” he says. “It would have been, but my landlord has decided he’s going to renovate where I am and make it into flats, so we’re actually moving on May 1 but we’re staying in the area. So it would have been 20 years in November, but not quite!

 

"We’re just moving, the rumours of our demise are much exaggerated. The more I sell on Record Store Day means the less I have to carry around to the new place in my rucksack. The new place is only four minutes away," he says.

 

Paul basically fell into the business 20 years ago, and has stayed in it ever since. “I didn’t start out as a record dealer, it just sort of happened. I was a chef actually, and I lost my job so I thought I might just start selling records. It’s a hard struggle, I could probably make a lot more money being a chef, but I like doing it.”

 

Over almost 20 years in the trade, Paul has seen the business of selling vinyl records become a lot harder, but thinks there has been a bit of an upturn in recent times.

 

“Yeah, it has been hard,” he admits. “But you can tell [that’s there’s an improvement in the fortunes of vinyl sales in recent times] by what’s available. Especially early '90s stuff, because they just made a token amount (back then), maybe in Holland or Germany, and you can’t find them.

 

“But every week there’s a bloody great long list of what they’re reissuing. It’s pretty hard as a retailer – you’ve got to juggle and try and decide what you’re going to stock, and there’s ‘deluxe’ versions and normal versions, it’d be pretty daunting if you were just starting out. You’re just like a kid in a candy store when you see all the vinyl that’s available. There’s too much.”

 

Ultimately, Paul feels that, with the onslaught of downloads, MP3s and all the rest, it’s actually CDs that will most likely go out for ever, rather than vinyl.

 

“I’ve got nothing against CDs, but I think they’re going to fall by the wayside, more than vinyl,” he says. “They really do seem to be dropping off, so they’re the ones that are going to go, not records.”

 

Any parting words about Record Store Day? “I just hope everybody has a good day,” he says in conclusion, “and everyone does it for the right reason, it should just be a great day.”

 

BY ROD WHITFIELD

HEARTLAND RECORDS is located at 61 Peel St, West Melbourne, (03) 9329 9636, heartlandrecords.com.au. Live music from 3pm with The Wardens and My Left Boot.