It’s fair to say that when Graham Jones published his Last Shop Standing book in 2009, he led the charge for a vocal minority alarmed at the seemingly unstoppable decline of independent record stores. Three years later, Record Store Day is massive and the closures have subsided, but the independent store is by no means out of the woods; at the time of writing, Rounder in Brighton has just sadly closed.
As endearingly independent as its subject, Last Shop Standing the film calls upon musicians (Johnny Marr and Richard Hawley) and shop owners nationwide (a wonderful array of characters), to weave Jones’ narrative of the rise, fall and rebirth of the independent store through their own experiences. Did the major labels put the squeeze on these small outposts in order to reap the rewards of bulk sales through the supermarkets? We can’t say for sure, but one proprietor recalls how he found it cheaper to buy his CD stock from a supermarket than order it from the major distributors for the price they were asking.
Anyone reading this will know the story well. The revival of vinyl has been picking up steam for some time now and, hand-in-hand with that, more people are turning back to independent stores because they know that’s where true music lovers unite – on both sides of the counter. It is, thankfully, a far cry from the early days of Napster, where many store owners realised that more customers were phoning into the shop than actually visiting and getting their hands dusty. You’ve read the book, now see the film. True collectors: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry.