I (Erica) was sad to hear this week of yet another indie business being pushed out for re-development in what has become an all too familiar story. Rare and Racy in Sheffield's Independent Quarter has been in business since 1969 selling records and books and although I have never visited it, this is the kind of place I spent my teenage and Uni years in, pouring over the mixture of sixties, seventies and contemporary records.
Bathonian lovers of music will no doubt remember the joys that were Replay, Rival and Nashers Music Store all of which were responsible for the spending of much of my saturday-earned wages (these and the flea market where I got my hands on some lovely sixties classic albums!). As the retail environment changed, and as music 'evolved' into the digital behemoth that it is now, these record businesses moved or downsized until they were no more. But Rare and Racy is so much sadder: this is a business with loyal regulars, widely recognised as central to Sheffield's indie quarter and yet forced into closure by imminent demolition. And all of this despite record numbers of signatures on a petition to the council. I can only imagine how sad the demolition of Southgate must have seemed, especially when it's replacement was unveiled.
Spillers in Cardiff, the oldest record shop in the world (its been open since 1894!), has since 2006 managed to cling on to its city centre location despite a massive regeneration of the surrounding area. Thanks to public support from welsh bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Spillers continues to provide a little indie haven amongst the high street behemoths.
But Spillers is rare. The Rare and Racy story really makes my heart swell as it is exactly businesses like record shops, businesses that trade on a niche passion, that seem to take the hardest hits of all. The teeny tiny silver lining is that Rare and Racy's tenancy may yet allow them two more years of trading in this, Sheffield's heartland, but only time will tell if they can weather the storm.