We caught up with Tom from Red Eye to talk a little about his backstory and his thoughts on the vinyl business.
Most of you will have come across Red Eye at some point. We were on there over the weekend and to our delight picked up a few records that we’ve been wanting to see repressed for some time now: Rudoulpho’s Sunday Afternoon and Workshop 12. There’s some real gems on there at the moment, so over the next few days we’ll be posting a “Subsoil Recommends” thing.
Can you give us a quick introduction to yourself and also to Red Eye?
I’m fairly old now as I started Redeye in 1992 when I was 20, it started as a little shop doing House/Hip Hop and what became Jungle/D&B but was then tagged as hardcore.
Where was your shop? What made you make the move to an online store?
The shop was in Ipswich, I used to work for my step father in his wine business for a couple of years and when he closed it I took over the lease and turned the wine racks into record racks. We traded on-line and through the shop there until the shop side of things was almost pointless.
I went into mail order and then on-line in ’97 and ’99 to survive, we had no cash and I used to live off selling weed really. We were always a good shop and going on-line gave us the opportunity to show a wider audience what we were about.
Do you see online record stores as posing a challenge to “physical” ones?
Walk in stores should see a resurgence as everyone misses them in some respects but the competition from on-line traders was years ago now.
Is there anything that you feel record stores could be doing better?
I have not been into another record shop for ages so I can’t really say what they are doing or should do but if I had the time I’d like to run one like the Italians run a bar. I’d sell records, food, coffee, booze, ice cream and have a space for people to relax while their mates bought some beats.
You hear so much these days about the resurgence of vinyl sales. How much have you seen that reflected in Red Eye? There are people who seem to think it’s mostly down to older people buying expensive double packs of old Pink Floyd albums, that sort of thing rather than people buying new 12″s.
Sales of records have gone up for sure, I suppose that people who actually pay for music would like something more tangible with a 2nd hand value instead of digital. Records are the best way of listening to music if you have the chance, we all know that.
Have you got anything else to add?
We sell good records to great people and we love it.