Is the Canberra market big enough for another record store? Of course it is.
Is there a war of records shops in town? Of course there is.
But not according to Tom Stockman, who has just opened Canberra’s newest record store, conveniently located in the heart of Old Kingston.
He says there is always room for another shop because everyone loves music.
“Of course there’s no records war,” he laughs. “No, not at all. There’s room for everybody. Absolutely.”
RARE Records has opened in the Cusack Centre right on the corner of Eyre Street and Highgate Lane, Kingston.
The store has its official opening launch this Saturday (15 July) afternoon with drinks, nibbles and maybe a few cheap records up for grabs.
It’s a tiny shop full of mostly secondhand LPs with an added small selection of CDs, T-shirts, music books and memorabilia.
RARE stands for Retro and Record Emporium and although it’s just opened in Canberra it has a little bit of history.
“We set up originally in Bungendore in 2015 and stayed until 2020,” Tom says.
“We got out because of COVID, bushfires, traffic slowing down and an all-round quieting of business.
“We’ve been looking for a suitable spot in Canberra ever since then and this popped up, so we grabbed it.”
You can expect to find a healthy inventory of most musical genres inside RARE, with a heavy emphasis on rock and pop albums.
However, there are some great jazz, blues and even country records to be found too.
“You’ve got to stay ahead of the game,” Tom says.
“We will probably be selling more used, old-school vinyl but that doesn’t mean we won’t be selling new stuff as well.
“We recognise that there’s a market for the new stuff and we are already stocking some new records here. That side of the business will grow.
“But there are some real gems to be found here among the secondhand LPs.
“People are buying old compilation albums these days to play at parties – like Ripper and Bobby Dazzler from the 70s, disco records and soundtracks. We’re stocking all that.”
Tom has been collecting records for most of his adult life and he has a huge personal collection. He says his tastes are both eclectic and specific.
“I’ve been collecting on and off for about 40 years and I have a good smattering of everything, but I really like British prog rock and psych from the 60s and 70s,” he says.
“But then I like classic rock and roll – Bowie, the Beatles, the Stones – well, I used to love the Stones when I was kid, but now everyone recognises that the Beatles are far superior and have been on top forever and ever and ever (laughs all round).”
The abundant excess from Tom’s personal collection is feeding the shop’s stock but he also knows how to find records from various sources if and when he needs to.
“I won’t run out of stock, that’s for sure,” he says.
And it’s not true that people aren’t buying CDs anymore. Some are highly sought after these days.
“We’re very careful about what CDs we will stock, but there are some good ones people are still wanting to buy,” Tom says.
“We have a bargain bin that’s got some good blues and other stuff for $5, but we also have some that are harder to find these days and are priced accordingly.”
Add to that a healthy range of concert posters and T-shirts and it’s a small slice of heaven for music lovers on the hunt.
RARE will be open from Thursdays to Mondays at this stage, but Tom expects that to change before too long and be open most days.