WE’VE ALWAYS had independent record shops on the high streets – they are becoming as rare as a bit of jewellery from Ratners but there’s still a few standing. Take a giant step back to the 70s and 80s – where did we get hold of our Top 40 tunes? A popular choice was from the high street giant Woolworths. Another option was a music shop that purely focused on music – no stationary, Pick ‘n’ Mix or board games on the shelves – just pure, undiluted vinyl and cassettes. The shop was Our Price Records.
The Top of the Pops (TOTP) effect
So how did Our Price Records know what stock to get in and what tunes would be snapped-up by music lovers? Here’s a little secret: the BBC provided a phone-in service for them – the Our Price team would give them a call on a Tuesday and in turn the BBC would fill them in on who’d be appearing on TOTP on Thursday. Our Price were also informed about whether the group or artist would be appearing live or if a music video would be played instead. Our Price would then order these songs to arrive in stores by Friday.
The result? They were prepared for the weekend rush of music lovers wanting to get hold of the tunes featured on the show.
Catchy and cool
‘Get down to Our Price’ was a catchy strapline that was frequently heard on TV and radio. Television ads were particularly attractive as clips of music videos were rolled with the narrator give the artist and tunes the big-up. It was actually quite cool to walk out of the shop with a few bits of new vinyl inside the plastic carrier bag with the Our Price Records logo – street-cred straight from behind the counter of the record shop.
The end was in sight
Cassette tapes and vinyl became less popular as listeners shifted to the more reliable compact disc. The cassette player in cars, which came standard, were slowly being removed and replaced with CD players. A major shift was more and more music being sold in supermarkets – butter, eggs, potatoes, milk, fish fingers, a Kyle Minogue CD and off to the checkout we go! Competition had become fierce as the ringmaster announced the contenders – ‘In the blue corner stands local favourite Woolworths – we have Our Price Records dressed in all red – top dog HMV is prowling the ring – WHSmith stands in the neutral corner and a number of newcomers looking menacing take up the centre of the ring … Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Adsa.’ The battle had begun. Our Price stood its ground but the fatal end was in the latter rounds when the internet and music downloads appeared in an already packed musical boxing ring.
RIP Our Price Records, 1971 – 2004
This brilliant ad for Virgin Atlantic features Our Price in one of the scenes
Check out my latest retro book, Section N Underpass. A fun and factual look back at entertainment, leisure and advertising from the 70s and 80s. For more info, click on book cover below: