Inside Exeter's independent record store
ONE-TIME lawyer, all-time music lover Jaimie Fennell feels like the last man standing in Exeter when it comes to selling records.
While other independent record stores have closed down around him, Jaimie is still going strong, having just enjoyed his best year ever.
The city's King of Vinyl runs Rooster Records in Fore Street, which arrived in 2006 and is now home to thousands of records to meet the massive upsurge of interest in vinyl.
Many of the newest are imported on a monthly basis from Europe and the US – while some of the oldest are brought to the shop in plastic bags, perhaps a lifetime's collection or just left-over attic memories of a well-spent youth.
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He said: "We've seen a huge rise in the sale of vinyl over the last few years which, ironically, now comfortably outsells CDs.
"The youngsters are buying it for the retro appeal. They have their iPods but don't feel as though they own anything tangible. And the older generation are going back to it often to replace their CD collections.
"For a growing number of music listeners, vinyl is the once and now future king, the only format that stands the test of time. It's that luscious black plastic, those dusty grooves, the full-size technicolour cover art, the rich, vibrant sound and let us not forget, the collectability.
"Rare vinyl just seems to rise in value all the time. It's a whole different way of experiencing music and it's easy to get hooked. Also, many new LPs are being pressed now, and on high-quality vinyl. We ship it in from the four corners of the globe."
It seems a long way from Jaimie's original career choice as a lawyer in Taunton.
He said: "I had always been a keen record collector and after 10 unfulfilling years in the legal profession decided, with the invaluable help of my wife Sheryl, to give it a go and follow my dream.
"People said I was nuts to throw away a career, but I haven't looked back since. It's very hard work and the hours are long, but I wouldn't change it for anything.
"I often travel far and wide to buy records and get a real buzz from chatting with a customer about their collection over a cup of tea."
Jaimie's personal taste encompasses all things Sixties and Seventies which is reflected on a radio show he presents once a month called Nuggets From The Vinyl Era on Exeter's station 106.8 Phonic FM.
"I just love psychedelia, prog rock and all that. It was a wonderful time for music," he said.
"We are probably the last independent record shop in Exeter and I do feel like the last man standing.
"I started in 1995 in Taunton and then sold that to a record shop, Black Cat Records, and moved to Exeter just over six years ago.
"When I started I was being told to get rid of the old vinyl, that CDs and so forth were the thing – but I didn't. That's why so many record shops failed, they switched over to CDs and now they have had their day.
"We stuck with vinyl and now vinyl is really popular, with all ages.
"People were sold downloads as if it was some sort of revolution but really it is just compressed sound. Vinyl is soulful, CDs are a little soulless, and downloads are pointless."