Posted November 18 2016
For many music lovers, buying and selling records in your very own record shop would be a dream come true. But what’s it really like? In our series “The Life of a Record Dealer”, we interview a friend and colleague of Shakedown Records, Mick Reynolds. Owner of the once legendary London based record shop, Memory Lane. Now trading online, in his 50+ years of buying and selling records, what Mick doesn’t know about music isn’t worth knowing.
Hi, my names Mick Reynolds and I own Memory Lane Records.
When did you open Memory Lane?
We opened Memory Lane in Morden (London, UK) in 1984. Before that, I was a builder. I had a really bad accident, and had to turn my hobby into a business. It was suggested to me that I start selling my own record collection, which was heart-breaking, but that’s life. So I started to sell my collection off and Memory Lane went from there. In 1989 we closed the Morden shop, and reopened in Croydon in 1994 having done record fairs in between.
Was it a quick success?
No business is ever a quick success. It’s a lot of heartache and a lot of strife. You have to really work at it. It’s a lot of initial outlay at first. Rates, rents, solicitors fees etc. It’s all a little bit of a shock. You just want to start selling, but there are all these traps waiting for you. You want to make sure you lay everything out properly from the beginning. If you don’t do that you get yourself into a right knot and we did at the start. We’re still sorting out the knot now actually. I’ve still got boxes from that time which I haven’t even opened, so that’s how bad the knot was.
Shop front of Memory Lane Records in Morden.
What were your main reasons for wanting to open a shop?
I had been to a few second hand record shops that had recently opened and had always wanted to do it. I visited Vintage Records in north London. It was a bit of a rickety rackety shop, but boy did they have some good stuff in there. Before that, I had only been to a few 78 record fairs, but Vintage Records was just a place I wanted to be. I kind of fell in love with the aura of the shop and it was the first day my wallet actually got emptied.
Where did the name Memory Lane come from?
A guy from Radio Jackie called Mike Knight used to call me Mickey Memory. When I told my friends, they said Memory Lane would be a good name for the shop. We didn’t realise at the time that there was a company in America already called Memory Lane. But I wasn’t ever really a collector of American vinyl. I mostly bought British collectable’s and British label’s, because I could never afford to get all the American vinyl that I wanted.
Mick at a 21st birthday party.
Were you collecting vinyl before you opened Memory Lane?
I started collecting vinyl when I was about 12 and I would have liked to open Memory Lane then, but that wasn’t the thought. I was collecting records at the time for the music and they had a certain thing about them. I don’t know what it is to this day. Their addictive. I started collecting the labels and the numbers. Because I started collecting them, I then had to finish the collections. That led to what it is today. You buy and buy until you complete the collection. That’s why you need a big wallet.
What was your first record you ever bought?
My first new record I ever bought was ‘Everlasting Love’ by The Love Affair. I went into a little shop and it was playing. It was a nice little up beat record. My first second hand record was ‘The Bus Stop’ by The Hollies, released in 1966. I bought it off a mate’s brother. I knew he didn’t want to sell it, but would at the right price. I just kept on offering him more money for it. Once I set my eyes on getting the record that was it. This caused a massive row with my mum as I had spent all my pocket money on this one record. My mum beat the life out of me that day. I left home because of that record. The money was immaterial to me. I just wanted the record. My first LP was a Jimi Hendrix album. It was a 10 bob job and had quite a few marks on it.
What was the best thing about collecting vinyl?
Well, I suppose it opened up a world of people and music. As I was growing up, I was brought up on classical music, so to hear pop music was refreshing. When I was about 12, it was something I just liked it, especially the psychedelic stuff.
Mick with a fellow record dealer.
What was the worst thing about collecting vinyl?
The amount of money involved. No doubt you need a big wallet to collect vinyl. At the time, there were loads of records about so you could pick them up pretty cheap. I had a job cleaning cars and all the money went on either clothes or records. The records took over eventually. And took over my wallet too.
What were the first genres to take your interest?
My parents were very much into their classical music. They listened to classical music 24/7 and I rebelled against that. I suppose Jimi Hendrix was the man. He just blew all that out the window. It was banned from the record player in my house. So much so that my Dad use too take the arm off the radio gram to stop me playing music at home. I had a little record player in my bedroom, but it was a little difficult playing LP’s, so I bought a lot of singles. That’s how I got into it Jimi Hendrix. I use to like the blues as well. Later on in life, I discovered that all the records I bought were leaning towards rhythm and blues or R&B cover versions. Reggae and the soul music were always there too. I didn’t realise how much so until I started analysing my record collection.
Have your musical interests changed much over the years?
Most definitely. Every week is a learning curve. Even now, I’ll hear something and think that’s great. I start researching it and looking into it. I can’t say that I like it all, but I do see why music has to change.
Mick with just some of his records in his house.
How do you feel about the music that has come out in the recent years?
I liked brit pop in the 90’s. And punk when it came out in the late 70’s. For someone who was well into their R&B, seeing the Sex Pistols and The Clash was just like, wow that bands got power. I got the same feeling with Blur and Oasis. When Oasis hit I thought, where did this band come from. But Pink Floyd did the same and Otis Redding the same back in the 60’s. Something good always comes out, but it seems the good stuff always become expensive. So the idea of collecting records is to buy records when they are out of fashion, not when they are in fashion.
Why did you close down the physical shop of Memory Lane?
We shut in 2014. Croydon council got rid of the escalator system on the high street and the foot fall outside the shop dropped by two thirds. As you can imagine, the business really suffered. Now we’re selling on eBay and it’s going well.
Mick, with his wife and Mum in the Morden shop.
And finally, we’re all dying to know, how many records do you actually own?
Well, Memory Lane owns thousands. And we’ve bought and sold thousands over the years. My own personal collection, with LP’s, EP’s and 45’s would be in excess of 100,000. It all takes up a lot of space and space is expensive, but what a feeling you get when you start looking through it.
Thanks Mick. That’s all for the first instalment in our series “The Life of a Record Dealer”. Stay tuned for more parts, where we will be delving deep into Micks thoughts on music, business, the future and everything in between.