Going for a song: Why record shops are selling up and leaving Camden

CAMDEN Town traders are feeling the pinch more than ever – and even the larger chain stores are closing downbecause of a lack of custom

Ben McPartland

CAMDEN Town traders are feeling the pinch more than ever - and even the larger chain stores are closing downbecause of a lack of custom.

Despite being a mecca for music fans, the area's most recent loss is Zavvi - formerly Virgin Records.

Two weeks ago the chain store on the High Street cleared its CDs and DVDs from the shelves and shut its doors for the last time.

The loss comes just a few months after lockside music store Fopp called it a day, meaning Camden Town now has very few major music outlets.

"What we need is more little music shops that not everyone knows about," said 17-year-old music fan Ryan Deegan.

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"The stuff you find in the markets is rubbish. You have to dig through what they have to find anything worthwhile.

"If there were more music shops then you'd be able to find good stuff more easily."

Zavvi is due to be replaced by budget clothes store H&M in the next few weeks.

Despite smaller, independent music shops also seeing a loss in trade, they hope the loss of the chain store will benefit them.

Jake Travis, owner of Out On The Floor Records on Inverness Street, said: "The halcyon days of record shops are over. People don't want to come out and look for music now it is all on the computer.

"We get by on the hardcore people who come to us looking for rare vinyl records. We are just a little niche shop. All the stuff by mainstream artists like Lily Allen or Coldplay can be downloaded.

"The only reason we can survive is because we are off the main High Street so the rent is not quite as expensive.

"It's just a huge corporate world out there now, until we have a global crash. That is the sad thing.

"But for us, running the shop is more a way of life than a way of making big bucks."

It is not only music shops that are having a tough time surviving in Camden Town.

On the Parkway and High Street alone, there are 20 shops lying empty or boarded up between Mornington Crescent and the start of Chalk Farm Road. Many others have been replaced by food outlets.

And despite Camden market being the second biggest tourist attraction in London, shop traders are still struggling to lure in the customers.

Simon Pitkeathley, chief executive of business organisation Camden Town Unlimited, said: "What we have to do is improve the environment to attract more shoppers.

"I think we will see a resurgence in Camden Town. There is a probably a bit of readjusting going on.

"I suspect the disappearance of the music shops is in part due to falling music sales generally. Twenty years ago, Camden was famous for its antiques but that changed. Camden is resilient and it will adapt and the shops will come back."