Featured Store: Hundred Records
Hundred Records was opened after Mark Wills took redundancy (or as his wife likes to tell people, his previous employers were so keen to be rid of him they paid him to go away). With his pay-off he decided to invest in something he had always wanted to do – opening his very own record shop. Again his wife disagrees, preferring ‘gambled’ to ‘invested’. He has found it just like he expected it to be: very much a case of doing something you love whilst trying to squeeze a living out of it. No one gets rich by running an independent record store. Holidays this year are more likely to be in Southend as opposed to the South Pacific.
Hundred Records are very much part of a new wave of independent record stores which have opened as part of an anti-digital reaction and feeds into the vinyl revival. The shop is based in a historic street called ‘The Hundred’ so named as the street contains 100 buildings. Although quite small the shop looks spacious and the decor is impressive. Most of the fixtures are wooden and Mark displays much of the vinyl in wine crates.
Most music fans can always remember the first record they bought. Mark, however, remembers well the first thing a customer bought from his shop. He has special reason to. After months of planning and promoting, the shop opened at 9am on 15 November 2014. He expected a queue but nobody was there. By 9:20am not a single person had walked through the door. He was worried that he was going to go bankrupt within weeks. Eventually at 9.21am a customer appeared and from then on a steady stream of people followed. The nice thing was so many said how delighted they were that Romsey now had its own record shop. For the record his first customer bought a set of headphones and a Peter Gabriel CD. He describes ‘Hundred Records’ as a curated shop, realising he can’t stock everything but tries to ensure he knows everything he stocks and tries to play as much new product as possible.
He is a huge supporter of local music and stocks all releases from artists and musicians on a non-profit basis. All the sales from these releases go straight back to the band. It is a fabulous gesture but as Mark puts it “I want the local record shop to be a hub for musicians and I want people to talk about Hundred Records”.
The shop is extremely pro-active and looks to put on as many in-store events as possible. Any musician reading this going near Southampton do get in touch with Mark if you are up for doing one. He has hosted performances by Martin Simpson, The Moulettes and many others. The most memorable event involved the wonderful Larkin Poe, the American Roots band fronted by the Lovell sisters. What the band had not grasped was just how small the shop is. They turned up on a hot summer’s day with all their equipment including a full drum kit. The shop can normally accommodate around 70 people for an event but by the time everything was set up the capacity had been reduced to about 40. It was an amazing gig with people packed in like sardines to watch the girls perform. It was so hot that when the band finished instead of signing their new CD from behind the counter Mark set up a table on the pavement with some drinks so everybody could cool down.
I asked Mark what future Proper / Red Essential releases he was looking forward to.
Here are his choices:
C Duncan – Midnight Sun (7th October – Red Essential)
C Duncan follows up last year’s Mercury nominated Architect with Midnight Sun an evocative album full of dreamy washes of Synth’s and reverb laden vocals.
Trembling Bells & Bonnie Prince Billy – The Bonnie Bells of Oxford (28th October – Proper)
A live album that is a collaboration between these two great artists, I’m looking forward to an exciting fusion of UK Folk & Gothic Americana
Joan as Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis – Let It Be You (21st Oct – Proper)
Both these artists are proper pop stars and I can’t wait to hear what they have cooked up between them
Rachel Yamagata – Tightrope Walker (11th November – Red Essential)
A singular singer songwriter, I’ve already heard this and it’s a racing certainty to be on heavy rotation in the shop when its finally released
47, The Hundred,
Tel: 01794 518655
Vinyl, CDs, Books, Merchandise, Instores
Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm