Matt Bell from The Turntable Vinyl Café spills the (coffee) beans…
Can you introduce your business in 10 words or less?
Great coffee, cake, small plates, new and used vinyl records.
How long has your business been running, and what drove you to start it?
We’ve (my wife Rebecca and I) been operating the online side of our business selling new and used vinyl records at www.theturntable.uk for just over a year now, and we were able to open our physical store for 10 days in October before we had to close due to ‘Lockdown 2.’ We had hoped to be open a little longer! We’re all chomping at the bit to get going when restrictions lift and we’ve got some great ideas for The Turntable.
My background’s in hospitality and I managed an independent coffee shop (Coffee Cali) in Huddersfield for nearly 10 years. I love it, the fast paced working environment, the fantastic and varied characters you meet and camaraderie of working in a small team. Some of my dearest friends have been colleagues and customers there. Having my own café and record shop has been a dream of mine for a long long time and in 2019, while recovering in hospital after a small heart attack at the age of 30 that had been caused by a virus, (not that one) I started to plan the place in my head and put together a plan to get it open.
Where is your business based, and what led you to choose to be based there?
We are located on New Street in Huddersfield, at the front of Market Avenue and opposite Oxfam. I love the central location and our shop has windows on two sides, something that had always been essential on my checklist for finding a premises. It makes it a really clean, welcoming and bright space. I wanted the business to be in Huddersfield as I know the town really well. I think there are some great independent businesses there, and I think more will pop up in the next few years.
The council are being ambitious with their plans for the town centre and that has to be applauded. Huddersfield isn’t the only town in the country that has struggled as retail and town centres have changed over the last 20 years and at least there is now a plan to arrest the decline and hopefully allow the town to thrive.
What are your most popular items/services? Why do you think this is popular with customers?
Cake. Our customers love our personal service too, our fantastic locally sourced coffee and the great music we play, but i think it’s mainly about cake. I was amazed at the feedback we got in our first 10 days of being open and it fills us with hope and confidence for the future, when we’ve moved past this strange period in all our lives.
Music is really important to people and in a world where everything is on demand, vinyl records push back against that and make you pay attention a bit more to not only what you are listening to, but also the beautiful artwork you’re holding in your hand and the human stories behind the music.https://giphy.com/embed/eSCpVwCRSmLMk
Do you have any employees?
We’re a small team that is likely to grow very soon, there’s myself (Matt), Becky, Ben, Janet, Phoebe and Rebecca. They’re all unique and lovely people and they all know how to graft. Ben is a very good singer and guitarist too so he will hopefully be playing some acoustic gigs in the shop very soon.
What’s your favourite job/task that you do as part of your business, and why?
I love talking to my customers, they’re a very interesting bunch! I know a lot of them from working in the town for nearly 10 years and have got really close to some of them, a few even have me on speed dial incase they ever need anything.
What impact has the pandemic/lockdown had on your business? Would you carry on with any of your new ways of working even when things are back to normal?
As I said, we only got to open for 10 days before we had to hibernate for the winter. We’ve still been selling vinyl records online and have tweaked a few things at the shop too.
Where do you see yourself/your business in 5 years?
Still there! We’ve got some big plans for the future and things we want to give a try, but for now we want to create a solid, sustainable business that can cope with changing pressures of being on the high street. On that, the good old high street, i’d just like to say that the independent businesses in the area have been great, many have popped in and said hello or given us shoutouts on social media (@theturntablevinylcafe on Instagram and Facebook by the way, give us a follow!) and made us feel like a part of the community.
It’s a drum that gets banged plenty at the moment but the future of the high street really does lie with, and is bright with, these fantastic independent businesses. If you don’t think Huddersfield has them then you haven’t looked hard enough!
What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own business?
Do it, don’t die wondering. Immerse yourself in it and keep learning!
Anything else you’d like to add?
See you all soon for a brew!