#19: Kevin Stuart & the Business of Vinyl

From piano lessons at the age of 6 and dabbling with guitar later in life, to recording my favourite songs off the radio onto cassette (wasn’t it so frustrating when the DJ spoke over the outro?), I have always had a deep appreciation for music. Anyone who knows me at all (or follows me on Instagram) will know that this passion has developed into a, perhaps somewhat unhealthy, obsession with vinyl records.

I sat down with owner of my favourite record store, Kevin Stuart, to chat about the temperamental second-hand vinyl industry. Between the impact of COVID-19, and the fading fad of collecting records, there have been, and still are, many challenges facing this sector of the retail trade.

We cover the basics of vinyl, sound systems and collections (they’re not worth as much as you think), discuss why he doesn’t pay attention to what his competitors are doing and how he keeps himself front of mind for buyers and sellers.


Show notes

Quote: “I was really, really, really struggling for money. It was really, really tough… So I just took all my records that I’d been collecting for 15 years and went to a record fair and sold them. [I] Used that money to pay some bills, and bought more records, and sold more records. [I] started dealing from my house, [then] bid-or-buy… I ended up having so many records I needed to do something with them, so I found a space in Linden.”

Quote: “My website took a backseat for a long time. It was only during lockdown that I put a lot more effort into it.”

Quote: “Setting up a factory – there is no technology in South Africa that exists to make records, so you’re going to have to import everything in Dollars, set it up here. It’s a big, big undertaking.”

Quote [about passion vs business]: “I definitely keep fewer records than I used to. I’m in a situation where [I get] a cool record or a valuable record that would be nice to have in my collection, but actually I have bills to pay and that record needs to be sold.”

Quote [about the impact of lockdown]: “There are just all these people who woke up to nothing. I was very fortunate that I still had the record store… [But] I had to let my main staff members go because I had a business that was paying my salary and paying the rent that was gone now, and there isn’t really the type of income from a small record store that can support more than 1 or 2 people full time… [The impact] has been massive. It hasn’t been easy.”

About Record Mad

Located in Linden, Johannesburg, Record Mad is a specialist in top quality imported, new and second hand vinyl LPs, 12″ and 7″ singles as well as other essentials for the vinyl enthusiast!

Carrying a wide range of genres, the physical and online store stocks an ever-evolving collection to choose from.

Connect Kevin on his website or find him on Facebook and Instagram.

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