“I’m Ronnie. I run the record shop and I’ve run records shops since 1990 and I‘ve had my own shop since 1993. So I’ve been doing it some of my adult life.
How do I find this, this, the most amazing happen chance and for 2 weeks after finding it, I couldn’t speak, id meet friends and they’ say, I hear you’ve got a new shop and I’d be like…
There were so many amazing things happened to me in those 2 weeks, that I couldn’t begin to catalogue them but it was literally I wasn’t thinking of coming back into retail cos I’d been away for 12 years and I’d been selling records at festivals, and it was quite good for me but I didn’t thinkI’d get back into retail because of all of the pitfalls, the rates, it just goes on and on and on and looking after rotas, getting stock, and do on and do forth, selling at festival was much more easy going, you’ve got all winter to work on it and in the summer you’d obviously sell and have fun in the sunshine. But um it was just a happening, it was on the Net for only 3 hours and I just happened to be chatting with jenny my partner, my wife er that you know, she said, what do you wanna do?
And I said er, I dunno, she goes, ‘well what about another shop?’ I said, ‘well, I said the best place, the most best place with a nice vibe was around the new cross area’ which I used to drive through cos I live outside London my son lives in north london, so I drive through and I drive through new cross, Deptford and think that’s how london used to be and I though yeah, Deptford, you know, somewhere like that.
And literally within minutes of going on the net I came across this property and when the lady, my landlady Ayo, she’s a fantastic Nigerian woman, she showed me round the shop, I said ‘what’s down there?’ she goes ‘this is the basement’, I was like ‘oh the basement! that’s good for a record shop’ and I came downstairs and found this amazing space which has been host to um clubs and what have you through time and the Deptford society came in one time and said that this was formerly the socialist bookshop in Deptford in the 1930s, so I think this, its got its own vibe and I think it draws people, likeminded people to it.
It was formerly a delicatessen and formerly a café, I think both cafes, I think because its off the beaten track found it hard to keep, keep up the trade but we had the record space we were formerly, we are a record shop and this café came secondary it was only when I found it had been a café and there was, I thought, so many people came, have used it, formerly, it was a good move to keep it as a café as well, umm it hasn’t been good returning money but um, ive had my time at making money, these times its sort of, do ,er, more altruistic business you know er formerly it was in the west end and it was about the business and this is more about community, and it gives opportunities to up and coming bands which I think opportunities are few and we need to create more, more spaces an we need to create a vibe where people don’t do, aren’t doing business solely for profit you know, they’re doing it to turnover, and just to keep, keep communicating ideas, the great thing about cafes is ideas can be shared and people can be who they want to be away from their flat, their parents, their next door neighbours, that’s the thing that festivals show, when you go to a festival, no one knows who you are, you can be who you like and you can tell people about your idea and your interests without people going, ah that’s the dude that wears the baseball cap that listen to drum n bass, you know they just think of you like an individuals and cafes create that space.
Well, we searched some maps for a background for a graphic and there’s a map the other side of the road, and again from the Deptford historical society – this side wasn’t in existence but the other side was, that pre-fire, that whole side, that was Georgian shops or whatever they call that era of shops and the last 2 buildings have got some architectural pieces of interest about them, umm architects often, not often sometimes you see some students with their tutor pointing out some points of interest on that, I think it’s something to do with pre and post fire regulations. The buildings were joined and that’s why the fire took off because they were sharing certain architectural features, got 1640 on the other side of the street, on this side I don’t know, of course I know the history of Deptford it was formerly said to be the oxford circus of its days, the shops were really grand, yeah theres a musical hall halfway up the street, ‘darge??’ a former musical hall. The shops go back enormously, er they were big shops they were major, this was a major spot.
Yeah, I’ve always been drawn to music, ive always been drawn to collecting records and when I first came to London in the mid 70s, late, yeah mid 70s, 74, 75, ummm, I lived, we lived in some or different places, er and did art projects and I was in an arts band for a bit around the era of punk. I was living in west London in those days down in kings road way and er just picked up on that energy and it was really more arts based person, but I never got to ummm explore that that much because this a- that and whenever acid house music came along id been such a record collector and lover of music that I just fell into playing records and from that fell into working in a record shop n from that fell into having a record shop and having 2 record shops and then ummmm about 2000 I closed down the shops, downloading, just hit downloading hit, it made retail unstable, you don’t get a lot of help you know, businesses about, about climbing and getting more profit, which it actually isn’t er, retail’s a service a commodity you can’t increase the price of you know…
The decorations due to jenny, she did the colours she’s fung shui, consultant, and comes in and goes right, that’s got to move, that’s in the wrong placem she keeps us in line on that level.
Going back to the giving musicians a break, during the punk era and post punk era, the squats sort of enabled a lot of people to play for free, you just had to get yourself there, and that’s the ethos, should be promoted more, and I think it is. Recently the amount of small venues that have emerged and people playing to 12 people which I think is great, it could be your pals, or it could be strangers, it creates an instant atmosphere being intimate.
Fondest memories so far is, to come I hope, but I think finding it was, still have to pinch myself, those weeks when it happened and when all the things there the fact that we’re in a pedestrianised area, people can sit outside, it’s quiet.
When I came here, it was outside, cycle racks outside, the people who were here before had really put a lot of love in it, it was almost ready to go, you can feel it when you walked into the building, most of it was building, most of it was building the counter.
Yeah, Ted Middleton playing, Bert was great here some bands are blowing this space away, we had to put the breaks on having notorious band because it’s a residential street, you know, we wanna keep the numbers down, we’d come here a Saturday, turned round the corner and it was just PACKED with people, so we had to put the breaks on and slow it down, and then have only up and coming or established bands – who’ve been established for a long time and erm, I used to say only bands that area coming up or getting used to performing live or they have been together for many years and just their pals come, which is a group of 20 people, those formula work here. We’d still have raucous up and coming bands so on, the electronic music is always great…
Having a café you see that Deptford has got masses of layers, the 60s people who came here, the university in the 60s are musician who decamped here. Cos of the cheap housing, the you have the 70s and the punks they came here for similar reasons and then you have the 80s people and all these people coexist but they don’t know each other and often they don’t know each other and many of ‘em come in here and that’s good, it’s a bit like sea captain’s rest as well. There are many sorts of musicians or ex musicians or musicians or former musicians who’ve lapsed who come in and it’s a bit like they, they come, and just have a cup of tea, like I said the captain’s rest or something like that, because of the nautical, social as we got older.
All sorts of people come in, transgender, people with… all sorts of people.”
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