Sheffield was so well stocked with record shops in the 70s and 80s that there wasn’t much need to travel out of town. Had I lived in nearby Chesterfield though, chances are my time would have been spent in Hudson’s Record & Tape shop in the market square. In recent years I visited more often. Chesterfield has retained a lot of the smaller independent shops and still has a great open air market, features Sheffield has largely lost. But even here the pressure from property developers and landlords is biting and Hudson’s finally closed in 2012 after an amazing 105 years trading, the last indie record shop for miles and apparently the oldest family run record shop in the world. Way to go Chesterfield Council, not supporting such a unique asset.
To be truthful the shop, still run by a member of the family, Keith, had been struggling for some time; the small but well stocked vinyl corner of a few years ago reduced to a shadow of it’s former self, CDs replaced by ever growing racks of cheap DVDs, and the musical instrument section falling by the wayside.
Yet for much of that 100+ years the shop had been a mainstay of the town’s musical scene, and it’s disappearance has been much mourned by locals. Many of whom had of course gone to online buying to save themselves a few bob.
I’m not too familiar with the firm’s history, though they started life at the Market Hall (opposite their last shop); certainly I have bags and sleeves from there. I think the block they ended up in was built in early 1970 and Hudson’s moved in right away, around 1971. Their fascia and shop front would seem to have remained unchanged since.
Keith was interviewed for both the book and film Last Shop Standing, and has been invited to events marking the opening of the film.
This rather nice recollection of shopping at Hudson’s on one blog is worth a read:
The Chesterfield Post spoke to Keith about the closure:
“It’s a very sad day for us, the staff and a sad day for Chesterfield. I’ve been here since 1955. Obviously in that time there have been huge musical changes and big changes too in the way that music is sold now – and that’s the internet and the downloading. That makes a big difference to retail because there isn’t as much demand for High street retail. (CDs are) used by supermarkets as loss leaders to get people in. It means that some of the things we sell we make very little profit on, if any at all. Other things we do make reasonable profits on. The rent and rates is £75,000 a year, there’s the wages, the electricity, the phones, all the usual stuff and with falling sales, it makes life very difficult. With chart albums, if we buy 10 copies of it, we make nothing at all until we sell the last copy, and if we sell 9 of them we make nothing at all. By selling just 8, we actually lose money, so it’s very difficult.” It’s a terrible thing that all the knowledge our staff have got is likely going to disappear. We obviously keep up to date with everything, but we also go back and we do try to help people when they’ve come in with complicated requests – but that is going to go and there’s no where else for it to go to. Lots of people are distraught. We’ve had tears on the counter and part of the shock is that fact that many people don’t know where they can go to get specialist things. They can go on the Internet, but a lot of older people don’t go on the Internet and don’t want to go on the Internet. (I’m) very disappointed to be going. It’s precisely the fact that we’ve been here for so long that makes it so disappointing. 105 years, you feel like a custodian of it and you feel disappointed that you’re the one that has to close it, it’s very sad.”
The photographs of the bag and Keith (taken on the day of closure) are © The Chesterfield Post / Karen Johnson. Thanks for allowing us to use them.