Spillers Records is a bastion of the independent music scene in Wales.
The Cardiff store proudly bills itself as ‘the oldest record shop in the world’, with a lineage going all the way back to 1894.
Based in the city’s Morgan Arcade, the store offers an impressive selection of CD and vinyl at affordable prices.
The Independent Echo caught up with its modern-day boss, Ashli Todd (pictured), to ask her all about the business in 2016…
How has business been at Spillers the past year, and how is the landscape for independent retail in the UK?
We moved premises in January 2015 so the last year has been really great for us. Being in a new space which we’re still getting to know and shape is exciting in itself. We’ve got a load more counter space and we’re planning to expand into an upstairs area.
“There’s a lot of bullshit to navigate out there, but that isn’t exclusive to retail!”
I feel positive about things for independent record retailers, but things could always improve, no doubt. There’s a lot of bullshit to navigate out there but that isn’t exclusive to what we do, it’s prevalent everywhere. I just feel lucky to be doing something I enjoy so much, on (mainly) my own terms.
What is special to you about working in independent music retail?
I consider my job title to be Pleasure Provider, it’s as simple as that at the core for me. Like being a doctor but without the rules and regulations.
People come in, searching for something to give them a certain feeling and when you hit them with a recommendation that they “get” something out of in the same way you did, that’s the best bit.
“I consider my job title to be pleasure provider.”
The majority of people who come in to our environment are sound, open minded and passionate people. Those people make the job an utter pleasure.
I had a really thoughtful thank you message from a lady on Valentine’s Day to say thanks for all our efforts getting her the perfect gift for her boyfriend. She bought it weeks ago but remembered us, how sweet is that?
What is your opinion on music streaming services such as Spotify?
I don’t have any use for them, personally I really have no gap in my listening day / life that means it serves any function that isn’t already overly filled by physical music.
That said, I have no problem with anyone else using it and do notice how many people who shop with us use it as a “dip-a-toe” tool to try before they buy so I can’t deny it as a complementary service to what we do here.
“I have no problem with anyone using spotify, and we notice how many people use it as a try-before-they-buy tool.”
Do I wish we still lived in a world where such things were not available to consumers? You bet I do – but I can accept that not everyone sees the same value that I do in beautifully designed and executed works of art that were made for handling and interacting with physically.
Pros and cons, each to their own!
What makes you optimistic for the future and what do you wish would change in the music industry?
Our customers make me optimistic for the future. I think people have voted with their feet when it comes to buying music and there is a divide with how people get their fix these days.
Those who buy into physical music and the places that provide it are my kind of people so naturally, their enthusiasm back for what we do breeds more positivity. I’m pleased to say we’re always seeing new faces and first timers in a record shop come through our door, so long may that continue.
“It makes me die inside a bit to read tescos refer to LPs as ‘trendy gifting options’.”
It makes me die a bit inside to read comments from Tescos music buyer refer to LPs as “trendy gifting options”, and this sort of nonsense needs to stop soon. Those kind of words really devalue the genuine passion that keeps independent record shops functioning.
Oh how I chuckled when someone posted a picture on Twitter of the barbaric security tags they’d stuck through the top corner of the LP sleeve. Think that’s what the kids would call a facepalm…
What are three records playing in your store right now you’d recommend we listen to?
The latest Diiv album really blew me away, I genuinely thought I was listening to some scuzzy lost Sonic Youth album when I came up from our basement not knowing what was playing.
Xixa (Giant Sand members Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan)’s new album on Glitterbeat is ticking all the boxes on the psychedelic-world-roots crossover vibe (and features Tinariwen’s Sadam Iyad Imarhan).
And though I’ve not heard it, I’m giddy with anticipation for the debut Meilyr Jones solo record. I just saw him play a festival here in Cardiff and he’s every bit capable of the enormous bench mark he’s set himself.