This week heralded the end of an era for music lovers in Shetland after the isles’ main independent music shop announced it was selling off its stock and putting its Commercial Street premises up for sale.
Clive’s Record Shop has been something of an institution having been established in the 1970s in tiny premises in Burns Lane, selling vinyl and cassette tapes before the advent of CDs. He later moved into videos, minidiscs, DVDs and computer games.
Joint-owned by Clive Munro and Caroline Miller, the business – in common with so many other independent music shops around the world – has suffered from the advent of downloadable digital mp3s and the proliferation of cheap online retailers like Amazon and Play.com. Clive’s is unlikely to have been helped by the Lerwick expansion of supermarket giant Tesco, which now stocks CDs and DVDs at knock-down prices.
After the shop had been shut for stock taking on Monday and Tuesday this week, a post on the store’s Facebook page on Wednesday stated it was holding a spring clearance sale on all stock. But the owners do hope the business can continue in some scaled-back form.
The post read: “We’ve reluctantly decided that the shop as it stands is no longer viable so we’re trying to sell off our stock. We’re also trying to sell the premises. This may not be the end of Clive’s as a smaller, more specialised shop is an option we’re considering. So watch this space I guess.”
Mr Munro is credited with helping shape the musical tastes of two generations of young Shetlanders, always willing to share his views on the latest rock, pop and country music offerings.
It was originally named “The Record Shop” in Burns Lane, where Shetland Folk Festival has its office now. Later Clive’s moved to equally small premises near the Queen’s Hotel, before expanding to its present location.
Music promoter Davie Gardner, a heavy user of Clive’s over the years, said the news would come as a huge blow to local musicians and shoppers.
“I’m massively disappointed to hear that,” he said. “I’ve used the shop since the early 1980s and even today in preference to Amazon or anywhere else. There’s that hands-on element that you don’t get anywhere else – it’s a massive, massive blow not only to folk like me, but to Shetland as a whole and most certainly to Commercial Street.
“He’s provided such a fantastic range of services. He knows his customers and always gives a very honest opinion, always recommending something that had merit. Losing that interface and expertise is a major thing.”
Mr Gardner said he was concerned at the loss of an ideal marketplace for local artists to sell their CDs. Digital sales of traditional music remain minuscule in comparison to other genres, he said.
“Where it’ll really be felt in the local community more than folk might think is – and I mean absolutely no disrespect to High Level Music – Clive’s has always had a very, very prominent place on the street. To get your product in there, get it sold through Clive with his marketing support, playing it in there and being able to pick up that product – that’s never as effective through websites or personal sales.
“Hopefully High Level will be able to pick up on some of that, but websites are not as good for local music because you have to be specifically looking for something before you find it. Concert outlets and downloads have never replaced that old-fashioned outlet, especially for folk music.”