23 Apr An Indie record shop that hits all the right notes for music fans
An Indie record shop that hits all the right notes for music fans
From an exclusive blue vinyl of Abba Voyage to rare pre-loved records, Heathen Chemistry is a mecca for music lovers.
Owner Simon Dampier’s expertly curated collection of new release vinyl and vintage classics has seen Fareham’s only independent record shop flourish since it first opened its doors and recently celebrated its fifth-anniversary last year.
Simon and his colleague Steve Rossi are both passionate about music and the shop is crammed with thousands of vinyl records, both new and pre-loved.
“When we opened, we were the first independent record shop in Fareham for 21 years,” says Simon.
“The love for vinyl was not at the peak level it is now, but the reception was still fantastic. Even people who didn’t have records anymore said how brilliant it was to see a record shop back in town.
“The big turnaround for us was in 2019 – that’s when the vinyl rediscovery really started to take off.
“When downloads took over from CDs, there was nothing physical about records anymore.
“But when you buy a vinyl record, it’s all about the physical experience. It’s almost ritualistic: people love getting their records out, looking at the covers, going through the lyrics. Now people are rediscovering that love, and even decorating their houses with album art.
“Homes were becoming sterile, but where’s there’s a record collection – seeing the record player and all the records – that’s a statement. It can tell you all about a person.
“Our customers range from fans who have been collectors for years to the younger generation with a love for both modern and vintage.
“We find the younger generation buys a lot of older stuff – the 70s and 80s are really popular.
“They love the whole experience of vinyl. When you put a record on, you can’t skip like you can on your phone or Spotify, you listen to it from start to finish, the way it was intended to be listened to.”
Simon and Steve enjoy being part of the community in Fareham and have got to know their customers’ likes and dislikes over the years.
“Music is a massive part of our life – it’s a hobby and a passion as well as a business.
“Our customers feel the same and they love to come in and talk. The conversations go on for ages – if we sold beer, we would be millionaires by now! It’s part and parcel of being independent; everyone is a person and not a number. We know our regulars, we know what they want, we can get things in for them, and they love it.”
Simon is a big supporter of Live Love Local and says going out to find your local independent traders is more crucial than ever.
“Lockdown was extremely hard for us, but it also led to lots of new people rediscovering a love of vinyl.
“Once we opened again, we were busier than ever, but some people just don’t know we’re here.
“There are so many reasons for people to come to us and not buy online. We are a Record Store Day UK retailer, so we get all the new and exclusives, and we also do pre-loved.
“All our pre-loved albums are cleaned and tested, so you know you are going to go away with a record you can actually play!”