Second hand record shops

Entrance to record shop, with enormous arrow painted on the wall pointing to the door with the shop name 'Skeleton' and text 'Record/CD Exchange'

Skeleton Records © Lee Fullington

Few if any record collectors collect in areas of music that are wholly new to them; most concentrate on material that is familiar. But within the sphere of familiarity - within the comfort zone offered by what they already know - they will usually be on the look-out for individual examples they have not heard and indeed for sounds that will take them into new areas. Here the second hand shop comes into its own. For the collector looking for items to add to the collection second hand shops are a place where the thrill of discovering something and the disappointment of not discovering anything are experienced in equal measure. For the collector venturing into new territory the second hand shop is often a less expensive place to experiment than the high street store.

For the budding record enthusiast in Liverpool in the late 1950s and 1960s one way to start a collection was by spending a little time and money at Edwards second-hand record shop in Kensington. Here one could examine the ply-board lists of singles hanging by the entrance - on sale for half price or less - or examine the window for a second-hand copy of a hoped-for album. The shop was a cornucopia of delights and enthusiasts of all ages were to be found there - once it had opened. Indeed Mr Edwards would often not open at all and on other occasions wait until the schools let out. Then an after-school walk to Kensington became a regular activity for those bitten by the popular music bug.

Edwards' back room was out of bounds to all but the most trusted. In this sanctum rarities were examined for defects and priced accordingly. Bartering with Mr Edwards was an unenviable task. Collectors often found themselves obliged to surrender records back to the shop in order to finance the purchase of something more up-to-date or left-field. When underground music became the rule of thumb in the late 1960s Mr Edwards was not always keen to restock, say, a Van Der Graaf Generator album after having already disposed of it once. Comments such as "We haven't got a market for this" would ring out across the diminutive shop as yet another disappointed would-be trader was forced to rethink. By the late-1970s Edwards had moved from Kensington to the Daulby Street end of London Road but rents and rates, coupled with record company over-production, crippled the second hand trade. The shop never recovered and closed its doors in the early 1980s.

In the 1960s both fans and collectors (who were often one and the same) began to take a keen interest in what became known as 'bootleg' records, and shops sprang up specialising in these. Bootlegs were unofficial recordings of live, studio or broadcast performances (studio outtakes were particularly prominent). Fans of high profile artists, such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan, were especially eager to obtain these recordings to compare their sound with those of the official releases.