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Jury out on new HMV in Oxford St

hmv

New HMV at 363 Oxford Street, in London

Once ailing UK music retailer HMV have this week done something rather brave – they’ve opened up a brand new store in London’s Oxford Street.

The exact site is 363 Oxford Street, where the record chain previously had a shop between 1921 and 2000, before moving across the road to new premises. That relocated branch closed earlier this year after HMV went into liquidation.

In a turnaround in fortunes, HMV was bought out for an estimated £50 million in April by Hilco (who already own HMV in Canada). The chief executive and HMV chairman Paul McGowan recently told the NME that “HMV [had] lost its mojo” and that “The stores had stopped being fun places to go into” but went on to explain how they will change for the better by putting more emphasis on increasing stock levels for a wider number of artists, relaunching the website and increasing in-store gigs.

SuperDeluxeEdition went along to see the store today to see what a ‘new’ HMV looks like. This used to be referred to amongst music fans as the ‘Bond Street HMV’ since it’s actually right next to Bond St. tube station. Having bought records here during the 1980s and the 1990s, we were hoping for a wave of nostalgia as we walked into the store. Unfortunately once you’re past the rather cute retro frontage, inside it’s rather like any other HMV.

An indication of the power of social media is new signage indicating albums that are ‘trending’, but the most annoying element of shopping in HMV remains in place, and that is the marginalisation of music itself. You have to wade through a sea of T-shirts, Books, Technology, Games and Blu-rays to find the actual music. The rock/pop A to Z section is up on the first floor, so the most important area of retail space – the ground floor as you walk in – is taken up largely with DVDs and Blu-rays. McGowan says “HMV made mistakes” in the past, and on the evidence here they continue to do so.

When you do get upstairs there is no doubt that the stock levels of A to Z rock and pop releases are massively improved, with a far wider range of albums on offer. ‘Big’ names such as Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, even get there own special section. Vinyl is very well catered for, but apart from a few exceptions (The Clash Sound System being one) most ‘super deluxe edition’ box sets were behind the counter. We asked a member of staff why they don’t have a special section with all the boxes on display and we were told it was for ‘security’ reasons. It’s not much fun trying to peer behind staff serving other customers to see what they have for sale.

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Rock and Pop A to Z is “massive improved”

Despite the increased stock levels and the focus on vinyl, the shopping experience for the music enthusiast was rather flat. No exciting imports, extensive but predictable A to Z, and acres of T-shirts on the ground floor which made it look more like the Army and Navy stores of old than a music shop.

So the jury is out. We want to see HMV survive, but hiding away high margin box sets while putting Disney DVDs right in the face of the consumer does not fill us with confidence that the music chain have a secure future.

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55 responses to Jury out on new HMV in Oxford St

  1. Rich Morgan says:

    Dury?

  2. Arthur says:

    As long as they have vinyl I’m happy!

  3. Paul Rymer says:

    For me what will make it will be if they have a wide variety of stock on offer. This is something HMV used to excel in. In the 80s and 90s I was able to buy new Japanese releases by UK, US and western acts in addition to the regular British stock – this increased the choice available and I made many trips into London, and saved up money, to splurge in that store and also the sadly missed Tower and Virgin stores. The HMV Shop at Bond Street was there first though – I always preferred it to the cavernous “new” big store past Oxford Circus – which hasn’t changed in terms of layout much in 20 years (except that they used to have dance vinyl where the games are now).
    Just on a nostalgia trip, I remember that the HMV Bond St when I first visited had cassettes in the basement, the ground floor had vinyl in the middle and CD around the sides; video and specialist departments were on the upper floors. I remember the tills were near the door and there was a large new releases and singles section with displays that changed weekly. I was lucky enough in ’88 to get my first proper job nearby so was in and out of the place almost daily, picking up free posters and any limited editions I could afford. The staff were great, this was when CD was getting to be big and there was a lot of investment in the stores and the sales side of the music industry. Then when the Japanese economy bubble burst in the early 90s all of a sudden those imports got so cheap; for 18 months or so a lot of titles were available to buy on CD that would be considered rare now – and yes HMV were sometimes more expensive than Tower in that regard but if you wanted something you could probably find it there. I do enjoy online shopping but I do miss those days when you could not only look in one shop, but get the best price browsing HMV, Virgin and Tower branches all within a 20 minute radius on foot.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Great memories Paul. I too liked the Bond Street store. It had quite a narrow staircase to get upstairs if I remember correctly. Cassettes were on the top floor around 1986 – I remember picked up the Sledgehammer cassette single up there.

      The new shop does have reasonable selection of stock, but no imports that I could see. If, for example, they’d had the Japanese SHM-CD of Paul McCartney’s new album I would have bought it rather than waiting for Amazon to ship. If they’d had the ZTT US-only ‘Organization of Pop’ I would have bought that too. So that’s £30 or £40 I would have happily spent on 2 CDs. Rather than work hard to make this happen, they flog DVDs 2-for-£10.

    • Phil says:

      You can’t beat a shop, and kudos to HMV – a brave move. Good luck to them!
      But the days of extensive stocks of imports are pretty much long gone. In the golden days there was Pacific and Greyhound all shipping in rafts of tasty stuff . . not to mention the suppliers like SP&S and Caroline who carried tons of cut-out stock. All gone now – there’s Fminor (who are superb for vinyl) and Proper Imports and that’s about it in the UK. As a shop you just can’t compete with the net for imports.
      I worked in a Virgin megastore in the 80’s. Oh yes my friends – armfuls of goodies! You haven’t lived till you’ve opened a 5 box/500 piece shipment from Japan!
      “If only you could see what I’ve seen . . . “

  4. Sordel says:

    I spent many hours in the old Bond St. HMV but, like Foyles, it was a remnant of the days when you would spend a long time browsing for the one or two rare items that made your day.

    The internet has (fortunately in my view) made a shop like that redundant, so I can see why we have to put up with HMVs that are effectively two things: first & foremost a discount, volume retailer and, secondarily, a premium retailer where no one with broadband need ever shop.

    You can’t go home again.

  5. Joe says:

    It would be impossible to put box sets worth £100 or more on the shop floor. I’m sure if you asked a member of staff they would let you handle and look at it. People, unfortunately, will steal things.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I don’t accept it would be ‘impossible’ to do this. The Apple store around the corner must have hundreds of thousands of pounds of kit openly on display for people to handle and play with. That is the most profitable retail space on the planet. HMV need to think outside the box and do something different. All this behind the counter ask-if-you-want-to-have-a-look nonsense is exactly what is going to put people off buying stuff. If they’d had a table with 20 of the new Paul Simon Complete Albums boxes sealed, with one open for people to have a look at, they probably would have sold quite a few. As it is I doubt they sold ANY.

  6. Jon L says:

    I was in a local HMV yesterday. It saddened me that they had to go into administration, lose most of their shops and lay off employees before they decided to do something about their stupidly high prices. I would actually purchase cds from them now.

  7. Hedley says:

    I thought the Virgin Store at Marble Arch killed HMV. A lunchtime underground ride from “Bank” but I didn’t bother to walk down Oxford Street.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Piccadilly Tower Records used to be the best, you didn’t even have to leave the tube station to go into the record shop. No daylight required!!

  8. Warren Mason says:

    When the Virgin Megastores closed here in New York City they were profitable. What drove the bottom line were sales of merchandise along with DVDs while the music sales operated at a loss. I would imagine the same economics apply at HMV which is why the best strategy is to position the higher revenue generating items on the ground floor. The physical music product serves as a draw and a loss leader for the more profitable items.

    While the physical product era in music is over for most, society lacks gathering spots for those who enjoy music culture. I am glad to see any retail model that enables such outlets to re-emerge.

  9. Rick says:

    I went back into my local HMV recently after it was saved at the last minute and relaunched. Unfortunately the CD prices were still far too high in comparison to online retailers and the artist range limited. Won’t be going back.

    However, if I had needed a T-shirt or a mug I would have been in luck.

  10. Joe says:

    Apple will have been sent display models of iPads etc, HMV don’t have that luxury. And of course, as the most profitable company on the planet, I dare say Apple could afford to lose high ticket items slightly easier than HMV. As for the imports, this is a fair point and the two things preventing this are thus; post administration a lot of the smaller import suppliers that supply HMV with imports are less than willing to keep sending them stock as they would have lost out on payments when the company went into administration. Also, many of these suppliers take a long time to shop stock out as a store will need to meet a minimum order before they ship. There’s a good chance that 363 have ordered much of this stuff but it simply hasn’t arrived. And 20 Paul Simon box sets don’t come cheap. What if 5 got shoved in someone’s bag, one got returned unwanted, 2 sold normally and the rest sat there unwanted? Reduce them, make a loss on them? Items like this are almost always unable to be returned to suppliers. If only money were no object…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The one advantage HMV has over Amazon is you can SEE and handle the product. Instead of using that to their advantage, they are throwing the advantage away by keeping the box sets away from people.

      • Mychael says:

        “The one advantage HMV has over Amazon is you can SEE and handle the product. ” – Exactly. And who says the record company doesn’t supply display copies (without actual discs)? The biggest record (and books…) store in Berlin (bigger than the Piccadilly Tower…) has shelfs in each department where you can grab the relevant box sets and inspect them – from those “Complete Album” sets to something like the big Louis Armstrong suitcase, the 11 CD/DVD John Wayne soundtracks LP-size box or expensive classical music sets.
        There used to be a record shop here that had a whole wall stocked with (empty) Bear Family boxes (supplied for free by BF), that you could take and have a look at. And buy. The tactile aspect really is an advantage of record stores (some online retailers describe last year’s Velvet Underground set as “6 CDs with booklet” – no wonder people complain about the price when they don’t see what they get.)

  11. Gareth Pugh says:

    Great article, many thanks. The ‘other’ Bond St HMV site in fact shut down about 2 or 3 years ago, though – apparently because the owners of Forever 21 which now occupies the site were so desperately keen to get it they offered HMV a rumoured £12M to let go of the lease early. It’s also said that the plan is to vacate the massive store further down Oxford Street (the one that opened in 1986) soon, but I have no idea how much truth there is or not in that. There’s a great photo retrospective of the ‘new’ old Bond Street premises in the Features section of The Vinyl Factory’s website: http://www.thevinylfactory.com/vinyl-factory-releases/a-visual-history-of-hmv-on-oxford-street/

  12. Galley says:

    This American had no idea HMV stood for His Master’s Voice.

  13. Robert says:

    I have never been to an HMV but from the sounds of it, I will miss my chance. I don’t understand the DVD/BR thing either. Disney DVD/BR’s are not hard to find and putting them in the consumers face first thing would not attract me to go in. I live in the US and visit this site daily. We had our music shops that I used to love to go to. I would spend hours flipping through import vinyl as well as the regular release thinking “what will I buy today”. But HMV sounds like it would be boring, typical and predictive to say the least. Because of this, online retailers like amazon keep getting our money.

  14. Eric says:

    I wonder how much HMV’s choice of prioritising stock and where it’s placed within the store is determined by their new owners, and the major film studios that are still prepared to keep it afloat?

    It saddens my soul that the HMV of the 80s and even the early 90s is
    gone, but at least it still exists in some form. A few months ago, even that seemed unlikely.

  15. Justin says:

    Sounds to me like another chain that would rather have 15,000 copies of the new Katy Perry album than a decent Pink Floyd section. One of those will not be heard from in 10 years…the other had David Gilmour in it.

    Sorry to say that in Australia, it’s getting harder and harder to find anything not in the top 20. I weep for my childrens chance to escape being constantly ‘x-factored’.

  16. trash says:

    I was really surprised (and secretly pleased) when I walked down Oxford st last weekend and noticed the HMV had been reinstated.
    For a while during the 90s I lived in Soho and worked on by the Edgeware rd so my walk to work went past The Virgin Megastore (Tottenham court rd end), and both large HMV stores. Every Monday morning I would be late into work as I checked out the latest releases in-store.
    The HMV bond street has particularly fond memories as I queued there to get things signed, by amongst others, Numan and Heaven 17 and Depeche Mode. I also remember surprising a staff member by ducking under the metal shutter before it was more than 2 feet off the ground so I could rush in and pick up two signed copies of David Sylvian’s Brilliant Trees album on vinyl (one for me one, one for a friend – we still have them to this day…).
    Nostalgia – it’s a thing of the past…

    P.s. @Paul Rymer – are you the Paul Rymer of the Nightporter Japan site?

    • Paul Rymer says:

      Yes I am though I haven’t done much with it for years (hence the retro design from the 1990s). I didn’t know HMV sold signed copies of Brilliant Trees, thank you, I’ll let Anthony Reynolds know as he’s currently working on a Japan book that is going to be amazing.

      • JO says:

        Hi Paul –

        Yes, I found out about the Japan book via your site and luckily managed to pledge money to it before the campaign ended. Really looking forward to it. I’ve been in touch with Anthony a couple of times to offer comments and help if needed.
        The signed Brilliant Trees albums were a bit weird as Sylvian didn’t appear in-store to sign them (which I guess isn’t *that* odd knowing Sylvian) and I seem to recall that there was only a small notice in the window announcing the release of the album the following Monday and mentioning that there would be signed copies available. I only happened to notice because I used to walk past the store every day.

        I know it hasn’t changed much recently but I still love the site (and check it out every now and then) so thank you for all your work there.
        I’m hoping there will be some news, at some point, regarding a new Sylvian ‘Trophies’ release that is supposedly in the works…

  17. william m says:

    until they become competitive with their pricing they are doomed to fail, HMV are still many pounds above what can be sourced online, unless you’re impatient enough to pay the mark up to get an item instead of waiting patiently for delivery.

    I hope they re-employ some of the great staff they left on benefits though

  18. Bob says:

    Great article Paul
    I visited the store a couple of weeks ago and completely agree with you. There should be a section for imports and a superdeluxe / boxset section.
    I remember 20 years ago buying a Blondie 2cd anthology and it cost me £29. There was a shelf full of them and many others the same price. This was expensive then for a double CD but they still had them on the shelves. If they are selling stock they need to display it so that we can see it, otherwise we may as well buy online.

  19. Paul B says:

    Must say I have always preferred the independents -Piccadilly,Vinyl Exchange and Decoy in Manchester; Action Records, Preston; Selectadisc and others on Berwick Street, Soho and the Camden Town shops plus many more mostly now sadly closed.
    HMV, Virgin etc were worth a look but with staff who mostly could be selling anything and high prices, they were rarely worth buying in.
    The fact they stock so little music now is testimony to the times we live in -free downloads rule.
    Can’t see HMV having a future unfortunately and only a few independents serving “niche” genres like soul, reggae and folk may survive long term. Oh well…

  20. Brian Campbell says:

    As an American, we have seen the drastic downfall and decrease of actual retail music/DVD stores here in the U.S. We have the whole contingent that making plastic (CD/DVD and their cases) to be “unfriendly to mother earth”. I highly disagree as it is the plastic rubbish that gets thrown into the bin that is the problem…I personally for one, tend to like to hold on to a CD or DVD that I buy. A friend of mine is currently visiting London and when she said she saw the new HMV, it was tears of joy for me because countries outside of my own really have some great ideas and know what they’re doing. I can only hope that the world isn’t reduced to the further closing of music/movie/games and other media shoppes for the future, and having something become just some computer file. As a previous post mentioned, I too like to hold on to my CDs…and the little booklets that accompany them. I am sure that the future holds nothing but e-files for our music and movies but until that time comes, I will continue to purchase the actual “plastic” product and be quite happy at the chance. A drive containing all mp3/m4a/mov files can go corrupt and everything is lost, but it takes a lot more to lose an entire CD/DVD collection. (And blast these labels that think it OK to issue a CD with tracks lifted from a vinyl source – e.g., shame on Demon/Edsel for their TABU snafus. That insults the audiophile and makes me avoid any future purchases from them.) OK – sorry for my rant…’nuff said! Cheers. BSC

  21. Jon C says:

    Having worked at one of the few American HMVs back in the 90s (at the Solomon Pond Mall in Marlborough MA, 1996-2000) (still one of my all-time favorite jobs, btw), I’m rooting for this new store. Granted, I’m sure it’ll have a few bumps in the road, including having all the expensive stuff behind the register, weird layouts, etc. Typical growing pains for any new store. I’m assuming (and hoping) that they’ll adjust that over the course of the next year or so.

    In a weird way I’m kind of hoping that they’ve learned their lesson here stateside (read: opening stores in weird out of the way places) and open up the chain again. I really loved that store, especially with its collector-friendly “we carry pretty much everything and can order it for you if we don’t” attitude.

  22. Disco says:

    I’m not sure what anyone really expects from a “new” record shop these days. From the description, it sounds like every mall-based record shop in the US, but a dozen years ago. They sell t-shirts because you can’t pirate t-shirts, and because they’re profitable. Ooh, look! A Kate Bush CD from the 80s! Who in the world will buy *that?* The amazing (puzzling?) thing to me is that anyone would try this business model in 2013.

    Where I live, vinyl shops are doing OK, but many of them also sell CDs, and I don’t know who buys them. I certainly don’t want them. Vinyl is easier to store (takes up less room). I haven’t bought a CD in many years and don’t want to. Don’t need the clutter. I get the part about “holding it in your hands,” but how often do you do that, realistically? Twice?

  23. Steven says:

    I don’t live in London, I live in the U.S., but when I visited, I found the very best record shop to be Sister Ray on Berwick Street. I found it confusing though that it wasn’t part of the Last Shop Standing film, so I figured others must be much better??? In America, NOTHING can come close to competing with Amoeba Records in California (San Francisco, Berkeley, Hollywood/Los Angeles)…
    Which ones in London are as good or better than Sister Ray next time I visit?? In case this helps, I care mostly about vinyl… Do not care at all about videos as Region 2 DVDs don’t play here anyway. THANKS!

    • Paul Rymer says:

      It depends what you want. Sister Ray sell a mixture of new and used/collectable stock, so they cover all bases really and their prices are fair I think.

      For used records the Music Exchange main branch in Notting Hill Gate is the best, although not as good as it used to be. Rarities are now on display on the ground floor. Alternatively I really like the branch in Greenwich (near the Cutty Sark DLR station) – it’s smaller but has a better atmosphere and whoever is managing the place seems to get the displays right so you can spot the good stuff easily.

      However, if you want the best experience try to visit London when one of the big record fairs is on; all the online dealers will have stalls and often sellers from Europe travel across – the fairs are the place to see and possibly buy super-rarities, and there are also a lot of £5 or even £1 crates to dig through.

      • Paul Rymer says:

        Oh I forgot to say, go to Shoreditch for Rough Trade East and there are also markets at the weekend with a few record stalls to be found. Rough Trade East is a proper music store, with a cafe, love the place.

  24. Bob says:

    Sorry Disco but I completely disagree. Vinyl is not easier to store nor does it take up less room. I have a shelving unit to display all of my my CD’s, with a deeper shelf for super deluxe/box sets. In my opinion shelves of vinyl look more cluttered and a mess. Furthermore CD’s can be fantastically packaged, as this website demonstrates. Just take a look at the Tears for Fears post to see how it can be done.
    Each to their own but I love CD’s. I would never ever buy vinyl again. Even if I had a turntable, the palaver of putting on a disc and then having to turn it over.
    I am a mega T.Rex / Marc Bolan fan, but even I did not buy the super deluxe version of The Slider, because I did not want the vinyl.
    (ps I wonder how many more times and in how many posts I can complain about The Slider box set lol)

  25. Michel says:

    Unfotunately HMV in Canda is the same: the first things you see are t-shirts, games and (even worse) toys!!!
    The rock cd shelves are in the far back and far smaller than they were just two years ago!!
    But I can say that the prices are more interesting in HMV than in any other cd stores, at least in Quebec where, for example, I found the limited edition of the new Editors cd for $14.99, ten bucks cheaper than anywhere else!!

  26. Gazelle says:

    One avenue that high street music retailers – such as HMV – could explore further when trying to differentiate themselves from their online competitors, is the area of in-store gigs and signings.

    Rough Trade East in London has been host to many in-store events this year, such as the launch of Tracey Thorn’s excellent ‘Bedsit Disco Queen’ autobiography and Beady Eye’s less-great second long player ‘BE’.

    I note that the new ‘Bond Street’ HMV is being visited by SDE favourite Paul McCartney this Friday…

  27. JO says:

    “Even if I had a turntable, the palaver of putting on a disc and then having to turn it over.”
    That makes me feel so sad :-( (no offence meant to you at all Bob – I’m sure most people agree with you).
    However, I remember one of my fave musicians (It might have been David Byrne or Paul Weller) saying that one of the things they liked about vinyl was that it engages you more – the very act of having to carefully place the stylus down on the record and then, 20 or so minutes later, having to walk over, lift up the arm, turn the vinyl over and place the stylus down again makes you more ‘involved’ in what you are listening to.
    Maybe that sounds ridiculous but it’s definitely how I feel.
    I do love my CD collection (and I have a large number of them) but it’s my vinyl collection that I really treasure…

  28. JD says:

    It’s funny how an item on the new HMV store has sparked another round of the age old debate about CD v vinyl. I couldn’t care less about HMV. For decades they were overpriced and frankly was it any wonder they went down the tubes? There are plenty of indie shops that are far more deserving of people’s time and money. HMV is great if you’re on Oxford Street shopping at H&M and want to pop in while you’re next door to buy that Saturdays CD (I doubt they get pressed on vinyl). Back in the day, a vinyl LP cost between £4-£8. Now you’re lucky if you can find a pressing that’s under £20. Remember when we used to have stickers that stated ‘Pay No More Than…’? Those days are gone too. People go on about the ritual. Yeah, great… but so is shooting heroin. I couldn’t give a toss about vinyl or a fold-out multipanel Yes album. It’s the music that matters to me and now that we’ve had almost 30 years of the CD, we really should be over it. Pick on digital if you want a battle that’s more relevant.

  29. Bob says:

    JD, if you don’t give a toss about vinyl or fold-out multi panel then what are you doing on this website? ‘Back in the day LP’s cost between £4-£8′, how far back are we going with this?
    This website is called Superdeluxeedition. Think about that the next time you come here. This website may not be for you, but many many of us love it and come here daily for the exclusives and to read Paul’s great and accurate reviews of the new releases – re-releases etc.
    Finally, if you spend some time reading through some of the posts you will soon see that this is a friendly community (rare I know on the internet) Your reply came across as anything but. We can all disagree and have our own opinions, but lets not get rude and angry, there is enough of that elsewhere.

  30. Eric says:

    Vinyl looks beautiful in the racks, but HMV’s prices for it are eye-watering. Take the Talk Talk – Spirit Of Eden with bonus DVD – is anyone actually going to pay £28 for that when it’s almost a tenner less online? And in an echo of what people were saying earlier about special boxsets being kept behind the counter to save them getting damaged if kept on the shop floor, this £28 LP was already creased and bent on the spine.

    Special display items for vinyls and boxsets really are the only serious option for a store these days. Even the staff manhandle the goods. let alone the public.

  31. Oldguyof67 says:

    Fascinated by the comments about the return of HMV to #363. I think I am right in saying that the last tenant was Footlocker and a stabbing [murder] took place there on Boxing Day a couple of years back, hopefully not a portent of things to come.

    I agree with almost all the comments made especially about the T-shirts. I can only assume that these are high margin goods that do sell in a semi-music environment and subsidise the low margin CDs and DVDs. Having said that although I am no fuddy-duddy, I was very unimpressed in the main continuing Oxford St store to come from basement on the escalator and have a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘F*CK …’ right in my face!

    A point that seems not to be made very often about the resurrected HMV is that the likes of Amazon and of course the CD and DVD companies really need bricks and mortar HMV to remain and succeed, perverse as it may seem for the former. The reason is that of display, of allowing customers to browse and find stuff that they were not aware of. I know Amazon have their ‘other customers who bought this also bought…’ but it is not the same as browsing 100s of CDs quickly and discovering something one had missed on the internet. My solution is that the record companies need to offer HMV a supplier price that enables them to compete with Amazon ie to be able to offer a CD for £1 or £2 more, not £5 plus. The real meanies can go home and save the odd quid but most people would deal immediately if the cost was only a pound or two and they knew it was.

    As regards displaying boxsets, is there not a compromise as per the now deceased Borders chain in the USA: use a locked glass display cabinet unobstructed by counters/staff, with stuff displayed so it can be read and perhaps a photocopy of the back adjacent.

    Finally, a reminiscence: I can beat you all re #363. In 1965 aged 19 I cycled 25 miles each way from home to visit. Yes it does have narrow stairs but then it had rows of listening booths in the basement – happy days. These days, my local HMV [Newbury] has gone, to be replaced by a Morrisons Local which is horrible and unnecessary being right opposite a similar and better Tesco. When I visit Reading and HMV, I lose if not the will to live but the will to spend because the range is so limited.

    I stumbled across your website when Googling the ‘Early Shadows’ boxset. It’s a great read, keep it coming.

  32. Dean says:

    Love(d) HMV – and want it to succeed.

    Price will always be an issue. I can live with prices being a little higher than online – for obvious reasons – but it’s when they get madly out of kilter things go wrong. The worst case I had was a Jazz box set that was at HMV.COM for £50. I went into their Oxford Street store, and it was £100. They wouldn’t match their own online price. Or come down a penny on their store copy. Minor extra I can deal with….

    What I can’t deal with is the lack of stock. And I’m not talking about classic rock and chart here, I’m sure they have oodles of that. I’m a Jazz fan, a contemporary classical fan, I like Soundtracks and all kinds of esoteric nonsense. The chances of finding much of what I want – let alone finding something new to buy – in an HMV these days is practically zero. What’s the browse? I don’t need a Beatles album, thank you. Or Justin Beiber, or whatever the latest pop fad is.

    While the titles I may be after would be considered niche, they’re likely higher margin. Not only that, but Jazz fans and those into esoteric music buy lots of stuff.

    I don’t get it. And why don’t they have a download booth where you can plug an iPod in and download a piece of music?

    HMV has totally lost its way. I’m of an older generation, and frankly they don’t seem to want me as a customer. It’s all T-shirts and gadgets. DVD’s and chart music. I guess they’re after the younger generation. Such a shame.

  33. Mike Bushell says:

    I really want HMV to succeed but I have to agree with most of the comments above. It just isn’t special enough. Boxed sets in particular are almost non-existent and as we all know the pricing policies are ridiculous.

    I want to buy a physical product. As Richard Hawley said mp3s and the like are like buying smoke. An HMV should make the experience special. They don’t seem to understand their customers. Why can’t I buy a cup of coffee and read a paper while I’m in there? There is no sort of experience whatsoever.

    mate on myself (we both live in Birmingham) now go on regualr trips to towns that have proper record shops (and NO, Birmingham does not have any that you’d walk into and want to spend some time in). So here’s a big thumbs up for:

    – Rise in Worcester
    – Carnival in Malvern
    – Head in Leamington Spa
    – Music Mania in Hanley

    And as a lot of other people are finding out, Sainsburys are doing the best deals these days.

  34. Joe says:

    Post administration, the price thing is a myth. The majority of stuff is now only a few pounds more, or in many cases actually cheaper… For instance want Johnny Marr’s new album? £7.99 at HMV. £10.63 on Amazon. New Foals album? 5.99 at HMV. £8.32 on Amazon. Clash Sound System box set? £99.99 at HMV. £126.99 on Amazon. Remastered Beatles White Album? £9.99 at HMV. £14.19 on Amazon. Obviously there are occasions when the opposite is true, but after the administration, both HMV and the record labels realised that to survive they needed to drive te prices down. Many, many of you have clearly and understandably have been let down by HMV in the past, the days of £15 CD’s, limited new release and poor catalogue are hopefully far behind us.

    • Eric says:

      Joe’s right. Lately, HMV has repeatedly been cheaper than online competitors. The new TFF deluxe, the McCartney album (both formats), and so on. Rather late in the day, too late for many I concede, they’ve brought their pricing in line with reality.

  35. SimonP says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that HMV would be better if it concentrated more on music, but I guess the market dictates that the Disney DVDs are necessary. I often go into my local in Bath and walk out after half an hour’s browsing because I’ve either not found what I’ve gone in there for or found it and balked at the high price.

    On the subject of Tower Records in Piccadilly, anyone remember getting all excited about finding some rare import CD in there and then putting it back because there was a saw cut in the spine that ruined it? Used to hate that!

  36. bob says:

    Hi Simon, yes I remember that on the cd cases as well. I am sure that I also saw it on some CDs in Virgin megastore. Why did they do that? I really miss all of the record shops, on every high street. I used to go from one to the other and spend hours in them. I loved the imports section the most.

    • SimonP says:

      Me, too. Train to Paddington, Tube to Tottenham Court Road to look around some hifi stores, then Virgin Megastore, down Oxford Street to HMV via Our Price, then down Regent Street to Tower :-D

  37. Leslie says:

    I friend of mine who was in there last week overheard a member of staff saying that the Oxford Street branch may be closing in January, can anybody confirm this?

  38. Rob Nicholson says:

    I was chatting to staff in the classical section of the old shop last week and was told they would be closing but they were unclear as to exactly when. Great site by the way; just discovered it!

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