THE Capital’s only specialist gramophone and record store has shut up shop for the last time.
The Gramophone Emporium has been selling wind-up gramophones and shellac recordings in St Stephen’s Street in Stockbridge for more than 40 years. Amid changing musical tastes, the Emporium offered a whimsical walk down memory lane.
It offered 100-year-old recordings of Russian tenors, musical hall favourites and 78 rpm jazz records – as well as old fashioned gramophones and stylus needles.
But owner Bill Breslin has decided to call it a day. “At 77, I think I’ve done my bit,” he said.
The shop, at 12 St Stephen Street, ceased trading at the end of March and now a massive clear-out operation is under way. Billy Gray, who ran the shop, said: “We’ve filled two Luton vans and there’s at least another van load still to go.”
The disappearance of the Gramophone Emporium marks the end of an era and comes just weeks after the closure of Avalanche Records in the Grassmarket, which had been in business in the city centre for the past 30 years.
For most of its life, the Emporium was based opposite the current shop, at 21 St Stephen Street, now VoxBox Music. It moved to the bigger premises across the road about five years ago.
It has gradually grown less viable as a business – but it will be sorely missed.
Mr Gray said: “We were the last shop left selling both gramophones and records, all the other dealers do it online.For the last while it has been regarded more as a club rather than a business.
“We have a very dedicated band of followers.
“It’s almost like being a drug dealer – supplying their needs.
“And it’s a shame that some of our brand new customers have only just got the bug – and now we’re withdrawing the supply.”
Mr Gray is looking forward to retirement. “I’m going to enjoy my own collection and hopefully do a bit of travelling.”
Graham McLeod – otherwise known as gramophone DJ Lord Holyrude – said he was going to be lost without the shop.
He uses a gramophone and old 78 records to entertain at weddings and clubs and relied on the Emporium for keeping some variety on his playlist.
He said: “It’s very much the end of an era. It’s going to be a huge loss. I’ve often gone into the shop, had a chat about different kinds of music and come out with a whole batch of records I’d never heard before.
“They’re so enthusiastic and it has been real personal service. Now I’m just going to rely on the chance I might find some old records at Oxfam shops.
“The closure of the Gramophone Emporium will create quite a void in the gramophone community.
No longer will there be a meeting place for like-minded souls to discuss the merits of the Savoy Havana Band.”
Mr Breslin will continue to sell specialist early 20th century operatic records online.