Thu 21 Jul 2011
A look into the world of Dunedin music retailers - Part One
Portil: End of December .
JB Hi-Fi: October last year .
Zodiac: I’ve been open 20 years, but I’ve only being doing vinyl hard out for 5 years.
DMC: You have quite a good selection.
Zodiac: There are 4000 LPs, 3000 singles [and] 3000 CDs.
Too Tone: This store was out the back of Chicks Hotel from about January/February last year through till October, then I got this store open in November so I moved it in from Chicks.
Big Orange: About 10 years ago.
DMC: What are your opening hours?
Portil: Basically 9 till 5.30 weekdays. 10 till 3 Saturday. Sunday, we’re not opening yet until demand’s there.
JB Hi-Fi: Open at 9, generally open till 6 during the week, 9 on a Friday and 5 on the weekend.
Zodiac: 9am till 4.30pm through week and Saturday 9am till 4pm. We’re closed on Sunday.
Big Orange: 10am till 4.30pm. My brother and sister are involved as well and we work it as a family business.
Too Tone: Tuesday to Friday, 10.30 in the morning till 6.30 at night. Then Saturday and Sunday 11.30 till 4/4.30; 4.30 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday but if I’m here earlier or later, if I’m here I’m open.
Marbecks: They are 8.30 till 5.30 at the moment, those are Winter hours but usually it’s 6. Late night is Friday, we’re open till 8 and Weekends 10 till 5.
DMC: How did your store get its name?
Portil: It’s a combination of the word ‘portal’, which means an entry way or point into something or an access to another world. We couldn’t use ‘portal’ because it’s been licensed many times over, so we went with ‘Portil’, and the ‘i’ is in the shape of the ‘information i.’ So, it’s about information. It’s just a general name. We didn’t want to actually put music or records or CDs or whatever because the shop is going to develop. It means we can bring in other lines at some point.
Zodiac: Zodiac, it was all the stars so it covered everybody. I thought up that 22 years ago.
Big Orange: I used to be friends with surfys and we were watching the sun come up at St. Clair once and I said: “Here comes the Big Orange,” and we all had a good laugh. It’s a good retailing colour, easy to spot from a car; a bit of a joke on Mitre 10.
Too Tone: It’s my DJ name.
DMC: How did you get that?
Too Tone: I started out playing ska music.
DMC: So did you play first wave ska or is it more second wave like the actual too tone stuff?
Too Tone: No it’s first wave, original, sixties, Jamaican ska.
DMC: How would you describe your regular customers?
Portil: Knowledgeable, eclectic, loyal.
JB Hi-Fi: Music enthusiasts. I look after music, the DVDs and gaming side of things. JB has all kinds of different customers like people who come in for TVs and that type of thing. We get a lot of repeat custom, particularly in the music area because we have a very broad range.
Zodiac: You get the older ones looking for something they had growing up, and then the school kids coming in; but the main buyers of the vinyl are middle-aged customers.
Big Orange: Wide range, going from late teens to middle-aged.
Too Tone: [someone who is] best never allowed in the shop (laughs). I worked at Echo Records on the second-hand counter for about 10 years; customers have changed, it’s everybody now. It’s like my youngest customer is technically three years old. I get families coming in, Mum, Dad and kids and they’re buying music across the board. There doesn’t seem to be so many collectors around at the moment but they’re out there, they just haven’t found the store yet.
DMC: Yeah, your store is a little hidden.
Too Tone: It’s all part of the mystery of being able to find it. Everybody goes “you need a flag, you need big signs on the outside” but i think part of going to a record shop is being able to find it, even if you have the address on a piece of paper. It’s nice to actually discover it.
Marbecks: In this store, generally older, 45 plus is our most common customers. We’ve got a pretty even spread of people buying music, DVDs and books; around 30% of each.
DMC: Have you found that there are many who come in store so frequently that they are recognizable? How frequently would you estimate they come in?
Portil: Yes, at least once a week.
JB Hi-Fi: We’ve got guys come in every day and many who come in multiple times per week
Zodiac: I have guys come in every week and know them by name.
Big Orange: Some people would come in at least two or three times a week. You get to know them all on a first name basis.
Too Tone: Yes. Most of my customers, the very recognizable ones, are once a week, that’s all first name basis stuff. Quite often I’ll remember the sort of stuff they’ve bought.
Marbecks: Oh sure. Some people come in everyday but it’s more of a rarity than it used to be. Some people you see buying something two to three times a week.
DMC: Would you say that you have a personal connection with your customers? How do you maintain this?
Portil: Some of them. [Connection is maintained] just through the shop. Just communicating with them when they come in and just having an idea of what they like, recognising them, addressing them by name and so on.
JB Hi-Fi: I like to yeah. I like to ask them what they’re listening to, how they like the last thing they bought and often they ask for recommendations and it’s like “well, if you like that, maybe you should try this, or have you heard this.” They might be into a particular genre of music and just through product knowledge of the genre or the band, just recommending them stuff.
Big Orange: Yeah, I would really because I was recently invited to join a vinyl club which involves just meeting at various members’ houses, bringing a long a bit of classic vinyl. Everyone gets to have their vinyl played, or at least one half, and we have a nice evening.
Too Tone: Yes. Recognising faces, recognising musical tastes, just being able to tease people and encourage them to look at new stuff.
Marbecks: Some of them. Just show them stuff you think they might be interested in. If they buy stuff all the time you just kinda know what they’re in to.
DMC: How did regular customers take the change of the face and/or ownership of your store?
Zodiac: I was called Zodiac Antiques and Stamps, but it evolved. The antique side was dropping away due to Trademe and we started stocking more vinyl. It was just an evolution over a period of time.
DMC: Would you say that the change of The CD & DVD Store to Marbecks went smoothly?
Marbecks: For us in Dunedin, we moved the store at the same time and it’s the first time they’d done books so it was all quite experimental. It was relocate and re-brand, so I think that most people thought that The CD & DVD Store closed down and this place opened up. Apart from some of the same staff, there’s nothing the same about it. It was a major upheaval and we put a lot of work into this place. This is the first store that they’ve done with a cafe and a book store. Since they’ve done this one, they’ve opened another in Palmerston North and put books into the Lambton Quay store so now they have three stores with this format.
Part two to follow
Melissa Flett and Matthew Stuart