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Independent Welling record store still proving a hit

PUBLISHED: 10:53 19 October 2012

John Sefton

John Sefton

Archant

An independent record store in Welling which would not look out of place in Penny Lane is still going strong after more than three decades.

John SeftonJohn Sefton

Cruisin Records in High Street has seen five or six independent stores close down since it opened 34 years ago, according to owner John Sefton.

Welling has seen a number of shops feel the squeeze of the recession, including the popular Nuxley’s Toy Store, but John says the secret to success is good customer service and musical knowledge.

“It’s important that there’s something for everyone. We try and give our customers the personal touch which you won’t get in big chains. One even said he’d come to us and spend an extra £1 more than he would at a corporate store to ensure we stayed in business, which meant a lot.

“A lot of the success is down to Ralph [Smith], who runs the shop. He’s the music expert and I deal with the business side of things.

John SeftonJohn Sefton

“We make a great team and must be doing something right to still be here.”

John, 59, started the business as a stall in Deptford Market 38 years ago, building it up until he came across a freehold on the market in Welling while driving to his home in Bexleyheath four years later.

Another four years passed before the landlords said they were retiring and John could buy the shop or move out.

He said: “Somehow I raised £169,000 from the bank, but I had to beg and borrow a little bit. That was a lot of money 30 years ago and it took me 18 years to pay it off, but it’s great to own the shop.”

As you would expect the shop sells seven-inch and 12-inch vinyl records as well as CDs and DVDs.

Ralph, who has worked in the shop since it opened, said: “There have been so many changes musically since I started, especially with downloads, the growth of the internet and copies so easy to come by.”

The 56-year-old, from Bexleyheath, said: “We’ve followed the trends and are still here, whether it’s more luck than judgement I couldn’t possibly tell you.

“I have noticed records are coming back into fashion again – people are buying ones they might have sold a few years ago and kids are starting to get into bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd through their parents.”

One reviewer on a music website writing about the store said: “I absolutely love this shop. It has every record I ever needed. Honestly, if I could, I would sleep in the shop.”

Having got into the business almost by accident, he had trained as a builder, John could not see himself doing anything else now.

He said: “The business has come a long way in a total of 38 years. We’re the only independent record store in the area and there are a lot of repeat customers.

“Old-style records seem to be coming back into fashion and that’s really exciting.”

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