Chatting with the record store’s owner Mark Reuten.
Dutch Vinyl has established quite a reputation within Melbourne’s ranks. A city decorated with record stores, both offering new and second-hand, Dutch Vinyl stands out from the crowd because of its heritage, and the idiosyncrasy that comes with that.
The store’s owner, Mark Reuten, moved from The Netherlands just over two decades ago and quickly warmed to the Melbourne way of life. After working as a web developer running his own company, Reuten User Experience Consulting, for the last ten years, it was only recently that Reuten decided to start his passion project.
That’s when Dutch Vinyl was born. Now about four years on and Reuten’s once-pipedream is more solid than ever. Part of his success can be put down to his Dutch knowledge, retail knack and feel for presentation.
“The idea from the start has been to create a destination store where there is something for everyone,” Reuten says. “We saw an opportunity to create a large store with a broad appeal. A key focus has also been to create a store which is well-appointed with nice furniture, nice clear sleeves on clean records and a great sound system.
“This mix has resulted in a space where our customers love to hang out. Especially on the weekends, the shop feels more like a bar than a record store. When I compare Dutch stores to ones in Australia, Dutch retailers tend to invest much more into the fit-out of the store, which is often done with care and attention for detail.”
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Records live in crates in homes, next to turntables or within cabinets. They promote conversation, education and nurture the desire to be home. As such, creating a setting that closely aligns with that is important.
Dutch Vinyl’s repertoire is wide-spanning with a strong nod to second-hand wax. 20 per cent of the floor stock is represented by pop and rock records from the ’60s to the ’90s, with the remainder spanning everything from jazz to funk and soul, prog, reggae, hip hop, classical and more. 30 per cent of Dutch Vinyl’s stock is new vinyl.
You’ll find everything from Father John Misty’s God’s Favourite Customer (2018) to The Doors’ L.A. Woman (1971) and Cat Stevens’ iconic Tea For The Tillerman (1970). That’s just the start – Dutch Vinyl always strives to be ahead of the curb.
After restrictions forced the store to retail with only one customer allowed in a time, Dutch Vinyl is now back open seven days a week, allowing five people to enter the store at once. In the meantime, the coronavirus forced Dutch Vinyl to bolster its online store, something which Reuten said was a crucial step.
“When the virus hit we immediately kicked our second-hand online selling system into action which had been ready to go for many months. The virus actually gave us the time and focus to get this properly up and running and now all priced records in the store also go straight onto the website.
“At the rate we are going we hope to have a catalogue of many tens of thousands of records online by the end of the year. So online has really gone crazy for us whilst, at least initially, the shop was shut,” Reuten says. “I think this change has really given us the extra focus we needed and so far it feels like it has done us good.”
You could have foreseen the crisis to create a difficult business quandary for Reuten, but the entrepreneur had the infrastructure in place to adapt, and adapt quickly. It’s a juxtaposition to many businesses braving their most uncomfortable period and reiterates the importance of dexterity and versatility.
So what’s Reuten’s next project?
Dutch Vinyl is about to get a store in Paddington, Brisbane, where the store’s first Melbourne manager is taking up the challenge to multiply the story. Tam Patton is his name and he’ll be looking to capitalise on a large arsenal of records to spawn and incite Dutch Vinyl 2.0.
With an already homely and lovingly-fitted Abbotsford store, Dutch Vinyl will be taking its furnishing efforts to the next level when its Brisbane sister comes to life.
“The Brisbane store is more spacious and lighter than the Melbourne store and we have taken our approach to design and attention details to the next level,” Reuten says. “The Melbourne store started with a small assortment of records which has steadily grown as we acquired more and more, the Brisbane store will open with a bang and has a large assortment of records ready to go.”
Reuten hopes to open his Brisbane store in mid-June.
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