Tallbird Record Shop was set up by me, Maria Harris (nee Arthur), in 2013. I’d just turned 50 and needed something to do to fill the hours between sending the kids off to school and cooking their dinner when they got home again. Housework and day time telly for the next 30 years just wasn’t an appealing enough challenge. I had half-heartedly scanned the “situations vacant” local ads but there was never anything that remotely appealed or that suited my skill-set.
I’d worked in music retail for most of my life (with a short detour into the cinema industry in my 30s) – Richard’s Records in Canterbury, Beggars Banquet in Kingston-Upon-Thames, Alto in Carnaby Street and Virgin Megastores all over the country (where I was responsible for the chain’s T-shirt and accessories ranges). Of all the jobs I ever had the one I most enjoyed was working in a record shop. So, as I wanted to do something that I knew I’d enjoy and as there was no longer a record shop in Chesterfield where I live, I had no option but to open one!
Once we’d signed the lease on 10 Soresby Street and there was no going back there followed a prolonged and agonising debate about what to call the shop. We toyed with the following (amongst others):
Yolo (You Only Live Once) – only uncool people use this expression said the kids, as they cringed outwardly.
Spire Records – as in, the Crooked Spire of Chesterfield, as in the name of at least 50% of all businesses in Chesterfield.
Rattlesnake Records – named for one of my favourite albums by Lloyd Cole but it turns out there’s already a Rattlesnake Records somewhere.
Laughing Gnome – as a homage to Bowie, my hero, not his finest moment it’s true.
Revolution – too boringly obvious.
AbbaZappa – a hot favourite, thinking I’d invented something unique, only to discover someone had already got there first.
In fact it turned out that every good name for a record shop had already been taken, but then lying in bed late at night Tallbird popped into my head - it seemed the perfect fit. I AM a tall bird (5ft 10 ½ as it happens), and so floated the name over the breakfast table the next morning. It received the thumbs up from husband and kids so I sketched out a very rough idea for a logo, sent it off to my father (a graphic designer) who returned the Tallbird logo pretty much as it appears at the top of this page. Bosh! Name and logo sorted...
Now we had the summer to get the shop open... I tracked down a raggle-taggle selection of old record and CD racking from various shops that had recently closed down, purchased several large job lots of second-hand stock, opened an account with a wholesale company who supplied new vinyl, asked a friend to use his interior decorating skills to transform the interior of the shop from lime-green to tomato red, raided Ikea for some furniture including our trust Expedit behind the counter, and our counter itself (actually a free-standing kitchen unit), bought a till off ebay and that was that. Opening a record shop really was surprisingly simple and straight-forward...
We opened on Friday 4th October 2013, two days after my son’s 11th birthday. The first record I sold in the shop was a second-hand vinyl copy of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” – I took this as a good omen – the people of Chesterfield obviously have great taste in music!
...Over two years later, we’re now an established and successful little independent business (still selling lots of Bowie) with a great core of regular customers, many of whom have now become good friends, and without whom we would not still be here today.
We’ve taken part in two successful Record Store Days, hosted a live afternoon event featuring more than a dozen local acts playing acoustic sets, released a 7” single for charity under the Tallbird record label, sold thousands of new and second-hand records and CDs, been finalists in the Chesterfield Retail Awards, and become a destination shop for many visitors to the town.
We take great pride in offering a friendly, approachable and knowledgeable service, always striving to supply the record and CD titles you’re looking for, even if it means ordering it, or even raiding our own personal collection!
Our Product Range:
New vinyl & CDs – being a small shop we have to be selective about what we stock and how much of each title we buy. Generally, we aim to always have the cream of each week’s new rock, pop, indie and specialist titles, plus selected reissues on vinyl that have hitherto been difficult to find second-hand.
I like to think we have a pretty good idea now about what our customers hope to find in the “new” section but also like to include some interesting surprises for discovery too. If we haven’t got it in stock we will do our best to order it in for you.
Second-hand: Our second-hand stock covers the following genres
Rock & Pop
Heavy Rock / Metal
Punk / New Wave
Electronic / Synth
Alternative / Indie
Folk & Country
Rock & Roll
Reggae & World
Soul / Funk / Disco
Dance / House
Hip – Hop
Formats stocked include LPs, 7” & 12”singles, and CDs.
The only genre we don’t cover at all is classical music – we just don’t have enough space to do it justice!
As well as vinyl and CDs we also sell a range of turntables, speakers and record players, audio accessories and cleaning products, books, prints badges and other gift items.
A word about Tallbird's Grading System:
All Tallbird’s second-hand records have been visually inspected, cleaned and graded using different coloured price stickers -
Gold - Mint (no marks to record or sleeve, in unplayed condition)
Silver – Excellent (record show signs of use may have one or two marks to sleeve and/or record)
Green – Very Good (has obviously been played and will have some marks and may have some light scratches)
Yellow – Good (record has been played many times and sound quality will have deteriorated, sleeve may have some noticeable damage)
Red – Fair (Record has not been well-looked after and there will be considerable surface noise. Sleeve will have significant damage.
(Spaces above to include pics of different colour tallbird logos)