Sheffield Record Shops
‘Our’ high streets are changing more than ever at the present time. Bricks and mortar outlets are under intense pressure from online activity, rising rents, rates and taxes while ownership of much retail property by financial institutions is hindering grass roots change. That local people can turn things around given the chance is in part demonstrated by the emergence of ‘pop-up’ window displays in many empty shop windows round the country.
ST33 has been given the opportunity to design and install one such display in the centre of Sheffield taking record sleeves at inspiration. It includes original 78 sleeves, digital reproductions of 1960s record shop bags from lost Sheffield shops, and prints by designer Simon Robinson responding to the imagery of these old sleeves.
Technology continues to impact on shops and at present record shops are rapidly disappearing due to advances in digital delivery. There is now just one national chain and under 300 independent record shops remaining. Prior to 1939, Sheffield alone had over 60 shops where you could buy records.
Whether established for several decades or just a few years, when shops close, that interaction with the people of the city disappears almost over-night. This display is an attempt to salvage some of that lost history, preserved on the sleeves and bags from local record shops.
The 10″ sleeves were given to customers to protect the brittle 78 rpm discs and went out of use in the 1950s. Some names will still be familiar to older Sheffielders – Cann’s, Cox, Wilson Peck’s. Atkinsons and Cole Brothers (now John Lewis) are still in the city. The rest, some dating back to the early 1900s, are long gone.
The records sold in shops during the latter half of the C20 survive in greater numbers but the paper or plastic bags they were carried home in are much more ephemeral. The display is in a shop window at the top of The Moor in Sheffield, a major post-war shopping area currently undergoing regeneration, and runs from July 21 for around four weeks. More photographs will follow.
If you worked in any of Sheffield’s record shops, have any photographs, bags or other printed ephemera we’d like to hear from you.
Thanks to : Neil Anderson, Sandra Barley. Design and installation by http://www.easyontheeye.net.