38 Notting Hill Gate;
London W11 „
I went in to get rid of lots of CDs I didn't want (love you, Spotify).Guy at the desk was aggressive and incredibly rude. I blamed his unhappiness on his clef lip but his seemingly able bodied colleague next door was as miserable and rude as him.I left feeling truly sad.I donated all my CDs to Oxfam instead.If you are a seller, I suggest you do the same.They will smile at you and accept your gift with gratitude and grace.Oxfam: 172 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2EB
This is a vast chain of shops that buys and sells second hand just about anything but the biggest would be music. They have stores all a few doors from one another devoted to Rock & Pop, Soul & Dance, Classical and Stage and Screen. Around the corner are shops selling clothing, books, magazines, comics, electronics, homeware... just about everything. This place is a goldmine and you could get lost here for hours.
First thing to say is that it's a buyers paradise. If you're looking to sell for big bucks you're better off trying to do it individually on an auction site because you won't get much. Fair enough, as they need to make money too. The way it works is that you can either sell for cash or for vouchers to be used across their stores. Vouchers give you double what the cash will. As they sell everything, unless you need the money badly, I often find vouchers to be more worthwhile.
If buying, you can find some great bargains. They have a pricing system that means that if an item doesn't sell its price decreases. The longer it doesn't sell, the more it goes down until it's in the bargain basement. I think if you're a music lover, this is the best part of it.
For CD's, the Rock & Pop bargain basement is next to none. You can find many great CD's for £2-£3 but you have to sift through the countless copies of Robbie Williams or Dido albums to get the treasure. Watch out for condition too. It being a bargain basement, quality varies greatly so be watchful.
If vinyl's your thing then the selection is great. You can get anything from a bog standard LP reissue to collectors' items in all genres. I've always found it fairly priced although I think things brand new to the shop may be a little overpriced due to their predicting the potential devaluation.
Staff are a bit hit and miss but mostly are fairly miserable. Think of you're clichéd image of second hand record shop staff and you've just about summed up this lot. Help is rarely at hand unfortunately in my experience. Oh, and if you can't stand the stench of chips and fried chicken, keep away. It stinks of it...
Founded in the late 60s in Hull as Record & Tape Exchange, and soon established in London with huge full-page ads in the rock weeklies, Music & Video Exchange is the hub of a network of what must be the country's main buy-sell-exchange emporium. As there are various outposts elsewhere in London and also other cities, I'll confine myself to Notting Hill Gate and its adjacent shops, just a few minutes' walk from Notting Hill Gate underground (central line), all open 10-8, 7 days a week. No. 38 is the mainstream rock and pop place; No. 36 is for classical, avant-garde, spoken word and recitals; No. 34 stage and screen; No. 40 7" singles; and No. 42 soul and dance, including jazz, Latin, Cuban, reggae and general world music. Carry on westward for a few minutes, and turn right at the corner into Pembridge Road, for a couple of smaller record shops (and one for books). All the record shops have a good collection of CD and vinyl, and as the latter are becoming increasingly a minority taste, there are plenty of bargain boxes available, like LPs for 50p each or sealed boxes of 100 LPs/12" singles for £5, if you want to pick something up cheaply and haven't binned your record deck yet. (Speaking as someone who still has a vast collection of vinyl, much of it unlikely to be reissued on CD, I haven't yet - and I hope I'll never have to). I have fond memories of No. 38 from my mid-70s London college days, when vinyl held sway, new albums generally cost £2.75-£3.50, and mint albums at these shops would generally set you back around £2, and the less eagerly snapped-up stuff would be marked down 20p every fortnight. Happy days. At that time there was still much inverted snobbery about singles (which were strictly 7", always black vinyl, and if UK issues rarely had picture sleeves), and it took the punk/new wave revolution to make 45s hip, respectable, and worth stocking in the shops. Soon af
ter the advent of CDs, MVE displayed their goods in locking glass cases, with the spines facing towards front and partly obscured by the price label. If you were tall or could stand on tiptoe and had swotted up beforehand exactly which tracks were on the record you were looking for, fine. If not, you had to ask an assistant to unlock the door, check the disc, and maybe then discover that you didn't want it after all. Thankfully that system was soon replaced by displaying CD booklets in PVC pouches in the browser racks. Anyway, that was then - but this is now. No. 38 has rock, pop and everything in between - punk, prog rock, rock'n'roll, rockabilly, garage, psych, Goth, metal and indie. Standard secondhand, often nearly new (ex-review, unwanted pressies, etc.) CD singles and albums, vinyl, cassettes, mini-discs, videos and DVDs, plus memorabilia, posters, one-off promos et al. Prices for normal CDs start at about £13 for albums or £4 for singles in mint condition (though CDs are less vulnerable to damage than vinyl, so most are mint), and the longer they stay in the shop, the more the price drops. Vinyl albums generally start at £9-£10 mint, vinyl singles £2-£3. Rare, unusual or autographed items are more. To quote a few sample items I have seen on recent visits: Frank Zappa boxed set (8 CDs, booklet, badge, beret) £120; Beatles Collection (13 cassettes, special box) £95; Classic Jerry Lee Lewis boxed set (8 CDs, booklet) £65; Oasis, 'Be Here Now' live 2-track CD single £22; Morrissey CD singles 1988-91, boxed £19; Rolling Stones, 'Their Satanic Majesties Request', original 3D picture on gatefold sleeve £30. The most expensive item I can ever recall noticing there was a Beatles 'Sergeant Pepper' gold disc, US, Capitol label, £2000 - something rarely seen outside an auction house (or rock star's pad - but I wouldn't know much about those unless I read 'Hello!' Magazine). If you see
something which looks massively overpriced, think twice before you produce the credit card. Last time I saw both Traveling Wilburys CDs, long since deleted (the rights having reverted from Warners to George Harrison). 'TW 3' (1990) was priced at £13, fair enough, but its 1988 predecessor, £90 'with slight scuff marks'. £90? Excuse me, guys. I checked next day in 'Record Collector Rare Price Guide 2002', which valued it at £30 mint. If it was autographed by Roy Orbison, £90 might be justified, but if it was, I'm sure the price tag would have told us. As I've seen dog-eared copies of said Price Guide on their shop desk, admittedly kept out of customer reach, they must know. Most of the rarities come within the rock field, but the soul shop throws up a few unexpected items. On a recent visit I noticed boxed sets by Whitney Houston and Jamiroquai respectively, both priced at £20 and containing four LPs, featuring a large amount of unreleased mixes. Want to sell your collection, or parts of it, or trade for exchange? Provided you're not trying to pass off counterfeits or bootlegs, take them along, but you must be at least 18 and have two forms of ID, with address and signature. Nothing legal refused, and you will be offered a set sum in cash or double in exchange vouchers to use at the shop, e.g. £15 cash or £30 exchange. A word of warning, from past experience. If taking a batch of stuff in, don't be over-helpful. Put neat carefully-sorted piles of CD singles and albums on the counter, explain politely which is which, and the assistant will glare at you as if to say, "Don't take the p***". Slam 'em down, wave your ID around with a grunt of "These any good, mate?", and you'll probably be more popular. What else can I tell you? Get the full lowdown on their website at www.mveshops.co.uk, which includes a full list of shops throughout London and bey
ond, facilities to buy more expensive items by post if you can't visit in person, and e-mail your wants. If you're serious about collecting or hunting down elusive records and you've never encountered MVE, check them out today.