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Solo Music urges customers to be loyal in wake of HMV opening

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

By Will Topps

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THE owners of Barnstaple's only independent record store have spoken out in the wake of a temporary record store opening in the town for the Christmas shopping period.

The manager of Boutport Street record store Solo Music, Scott Linn, and owner Maggie Garrett say their store could face a fight for survival after a HMV pop-up shop opened in Green Lanes Shopping Centre at the start of November.

The temporary branch of the chain store will stay open until January, with its bosses aiming to cash in on the lucrative Christmas shopping period.

"The problem with pop-up shops," said Scott, "is they milk off the profits that long-term shops need to sustain them through the rest of the year and make them viable.

"The problem's made worse by the fact many pop-up shops pay subsidised rent and rates for their short tenure.

And Scott said the threat to Solo is a very real one.

"The future of Solo Music, which is one of the last independent music stores left in the South West, is under threat," he said.

"We aim to provide a comprehensive selection of all types of music, backed up with excellent customer service, ordering facilities and advice.

"We don't just sell the top 100 titles that can be purchased in any supermarket, but showcase many different types and genres of music, including supporting the vibrant music scene in Barnstaple.

"There are fewer and fewer independent music stores in the UK offering this kind of service, but Barnstaple has always been the kind of town that welcomes and attracts diverse retailers, different from the same old, boring High Streets in other parts of the country."

Which is why Scott remains hopeful that "true music lovers" will support the store this Christmas. "We know true music lovers support us and other independents across the country because we care about the local community too," he said.

"In a few months HMV will be gone but we want to stay. We just need customers to stay with us."

A spokesman for HMV said the company did not intend to make other businesses suffer, but to give consumers a greater choice.

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said: "It's not our intention to impact on anyone else, who I'm sure will have their loyal customers anyway, other than to offer the public in Barnstaple an even greater selection of gift ideas for Christmas.

"It's about giving people increased specialist choice, and judging by the wonderful response we've had so far, quite a few of them appreciate the increased range that is now available to them, not just for music."

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