Right around the corner from the world famous Portobello Road lies Rough Trade. The music store was founded in 1976, and boasts one of the largest vinyl and CD collections in the UK. They have four stores around the world, with three in the UK and one in New York. Rough Trade West, the store located by Portobello, is the original and was started by Geoff Travis.
London’s hidden gem for vinyls, CDs, and music in general has a strong history in the music industry, as it created its own record label called Rough Trade Records in 1978. The independent label was home to artists such as The Strokes, Scritti Polliti, and most notably, The Smiths. Blending all genres of music, as well as artists both new and old, Rough Trade has maintained its credibility over three decades, and bears no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Although Rough Trade West is the original, it is the smallest out of all four shops. Rough Trade East is the most desirable of the group, as alongside the shop itself, there is also a stage for live performances, and a seating area with a café. The store often hosts free performances and gives an outlet to young artists who want to make a name for themselves. Rough Trade New York was opened in late 2013, and is New York’s largest record store. Any album or mini project imaginable can be found at Rough Trade. In the West store, hundreds upon hundreds of CDs and vinyls are stacked on each row. Ranging from stars like The Beatles, to small indie rock groups formed just this year, the store has mastered its collection and is an amazing sight to see for all music fans.
The atmosphere of the west store is remarkable, as the friendly staff isn’t shy when it comes to playing the music they enjoy. Every step taken inside the store seems to match the beat of the song blasting over the speaker. Little features like this are what make up the store to be so incredible.
The staff is very knowledgeable when it comes to music, but it is also quite easy to find what you are looking for on your own. Each genre and musician is clearly labeled, and there are multiple sub-genres listed that most people have never heard of. The character of the store makes it a necessary visit for anyone, and once you are there, it is practically impossible not to buy something. There are many different ways to take home a piece of Rough Trade, as they also sell record players, clothing, videos, and much more. Despite the tiny size of the store, it packs every bit and piece of music possible.
Spanning over three decades, Rough Trade has been an essential figure in the music and vinyl industry throughout its existence. Almost every artist, whether mainstream or leftfield, can call Rough Trade home to one of their projects.
All in all, Rough Trade has stayed true to its original aims, and the store strives to connect artists and audiences as well as represent both the creative and artistic views of the music they sell. Maintaining those goals throughout their entire career is what makes Rough Trade so truly unique. The store will not only leave you with a fresh take on the music world, but a nagging desire to go visit again.