Matthew Estall, 29, Shop Manager, Flashback Records, Shoreditch
Photography ©Rob Greig
Why work in a record shop instead of, say, a flower shop?
‘I did a degree in music, which obviously is pretty much worthless in the world of employment. So I got a job in a record shop. I’ve been at Flashback for five years now. Record shop people never seem to leave the job: it’s probably down to a lack of transferable skills! It’s not a well-paid profession so you’ve got to be passionate. People rarely move on unless they have to.’
What keeps you here instead of getting a ‘proper job’?
‘I’m constantly fascinated by what turns up, and I still get excited when I find records I’ve been after for ages. And then obviously I get to spend my day chatting to colleagues and customers about music and records. We’re all aware that we’re a bit weird – a bit competitive – with music knowledge, but that’s just part of it.’
What’s your favourite bit of the job? Apart from correcting people about what the best Beatles B-side is…
‘I’m really involved in buying records and going out to see collections. We find amazingly rare things, that’s what keeps us in business. I bought a collection last year, all Blue Note jazz records, totally mint condition – there were only about 70 or 80 records, but we paid about £4,000 for them, and they didn’t hang around. Those were records that I thought I’d never even see, let alone perfect copies of them. Another time, we bought 20,000 records – went to this guy’s place, a three-room flat, and every available space was filled with records. It was fascinating.’
What are your customers like?
‘Real obsessives. Libraries, bookshops and record shops definitely attract some of society’s more eccentric individuals. So there’s a bit of a care-in-the-community aspect to the job! Some of them are fascinating, some are more annoying than others, but it keeps the job interesting.’
Hours 40hrs p/w
Starting salary £6.80 p/h
Qualifications Good music knowledge and retail experience
Or why not become an armourer instead?
Interview by Eddy Frankel