Music Village, Chadwell Heath.
Meanwhile, back in Romford... We decided that this month we wouldn't move too far from our expose of the peanut industry at Monkey Business, and take a look at a new retailer just a couple of miles away at Chadwell Heath.
The Music Village opened around November last year, occupying a superb new shop space on the main London-Essex road, and having a wide area full of clubs, live music pubs, and a mass of musicians in East London to serve. The shop was started by Brian and John who previously ran Brian & John's Music Store. But far from just changing the name with their move, the pair wanted to ensure that they had an entirely new music shop. Brian explained:
'We wanted to find a place that had enough space for all the different types of instruments and equipment that you really have to stock now. The industry is changing, and we wanted to have the room to show home recording equipment, the new generations of keyboards, and a section for people to come and try some computerised music systems.'
To this end they have extended the store back from the main room and built on a new 'wing' to the shop, which currently houses the drums, amplifiers, and their stock of secondhand amps and cabs.
The main room of the shop is split into three sections, one area holding their battery of keyboards, with names like Sequential Circuits, Yamaha, Roland and Casio among others, while an entire wall is given over to their guitar gallery, with a wide range of all types of electric and acoustic guitars from Fender, Gibson, Washburn, Westone, Aria, Ibanez, Squier and Yamaha, plus a good selection of secondhand instruments, with prices that start at around the £50 mark.
'We like to keep a fair stock of secondhand equipment in, simply because it maintains a good turnover of stock,' explained Brian. 'We like to cater for the musicians who are trying to find the right piece of gear and who also like to keep up with the latest in instruments... they like to change, and we like to help!'
The helping hand of the Music Village also extends to their after-sales service; they offer a rare six months guarantee on all secondhand stock, and they also have a large and well equipped repairs and spares department to deal with the majority of equipment problems. This department is at the far back of the shop, beside a very large storeroom/warehouse that MV are intending to set up as a demonstration room, doubling as a showcase for visiting 'roadshows' such as the Fender or SCI extravaganzas that have been trekking the UK lately.
Currently, their home recording equipment occupies one corner in the shop, but both the proprietors expect a move for this department to a more prominent position in the near future. Their current stocks include Fostex, Teac and a range of parts and accessories to keep even the most ardent home recordist happy. The supply situation as regards this sort of equipment has caused Music Village some concern in the past - especially the X15 Multitracker. Brian commented - 'We just can't get enough of them, and it's the same story all round. The market for secondhand home recording equipment is getting stronger every day, too.'
One unusual aspect of Music Village is reflected in part by their attention to the home recording equipment market - they like to innovate, keeping up with the new advances that appear on the market. This includes things like computer music hardware and software, and they recently took in stocks of Commodore computers, screens, and the Sequential Circuits Commodore 64 MIDI sequencer and software. This is one product they are particularly excited about, and they've already received plenty of real interest, not only locally, but also from dim and distant parts of the UK.
It's always nice when we are visiting retailers to look at the local trends, which vary enormously across the country. Music Village is no exception. Their 'big sellers' include the obvious DX7 ('Ridiculous demand...' - Brian), the new Sequential Circuits Six Trak and Drumtraks ('Some of the most exciting new equipment for ages - it doesn't take anyone long to very work them out...' - John) and the Roland JX3P, which both the proprietors doodled on while we visited.
Regional variations apart, the position commanded by Music Village on the High Road at Chadwell Heath is imposing, and visible for miles (Visitors should also note that the numbering on the High Road is mad - and it runs for about four miles... just ask anyone holding a guitar case or a synth box).
So, a shop with a great secondhand pricing and guarantee policy, all the new ranges under one roof, and an unhurried and friendly atmosphere. If only there was one on every high street!
Feature by Tim Oakes
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