We are all in the jazz and easy-listening department, but some of us are looking up at the white labels

Those who like their chains to not look like chains might blanch at the news that Fopp are in serious trouble. Certainly I’d rather the branch at the corner of Gloc Green was a Fopp than a HMV or Virgin, or a coffee shop, or yet another resolutely middle-class trinket outlet; on the other hand it’d be better off as another Chalky’s, or Polar Bear, or even an extension of the Avid Records emporium near the fagpacket-yellow Cock and Camel, but that’s another story.

The state of the Chalky’s in Banbury was a bit of a surprise. It seemed a bit too roomy, to be honest, and everything there was on some sort of offer. The small shops just can’t compete with the chains (and certainly not with the online stores) on price, or in the mainstream markets, and I do worry that Chalky’s has gravitated towards that market because there just isn’t the trade in off-kilter or specialist music to justify stocking it or at least branding your shop as though you might. As it stands, though, all it would take would be a small chain music outlet, or even a well-stocked Woolworth’s, to undercut the entire customer base. I don’t know enough about Banbury’s shops to tell whether that’s already a difficulty, already solved somehow; but I wish the independents all the luck in the world.

Of course, I buy all my music these days from a fop, but he’s less of a shop than a beard.

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