Your breath is sweet, your eyes are like two jewels in the sky. Your back is straight, your hair is smooth, on the pillow where you lie.
No, I’ve not been in your bedroom watching you while you sleep. The line above is a Bob Dylan lyric from a song whose title I pinched for the title of this rambling blog bit.
And moving swiftly on, I want to say thank you to all of our customers as the VoxBox shop has a really great feel to it just now! From those newly converted to vinyl records and those who maybe received their first record player this Christmas and to the wonderful record collectors and the vinyl hardcore who never ever lost that loving feeling in the first place.
There is a Starbucks on the corner of St Stephen Street and Howe Street. Starbucks have been in the news recently as they aren’t paying much tax.
There are 39 independent businesses on St Stephen Street. About 10 of which will serve you a coffee. To be absolutely honest, that makes a total of 40 businesses and 11 coffee sellers that want to pay as little tax as is legally possible. Certainly, no-one wants to pay any more than a competitor. I really don’t mind it if folk still drink coffee in Starbucks, they were a small company once and their coffee tastes fine. Add to that -if you’ve been in just once then you can pop in to use their toilet and baby changing facilities with a clear conscience and finally it’s none of my business where you get your brownish caffeinated liquid.
Our wee record shop has been open over 18 months now and I wanted to talk around that and coffee. As a record shop, traditional vinyl enthusiasts and collectors will tend to find you. We’ve had a helping hand in this with our sponsoring of the Edinburgh Record Fairs at Café Camino (Next one on 2nd Feb). We’ve advertised in various magazines but nothing has been better than the sign at the end of the street and our occasional stall at the Stockbridge Sunday Market. One customer never noticed us before until he saw George who had a stall. The chap lived on St Stephen Street -above our shop.
I’m sure that lots of people living in the street probably still don’t know that we’re here and that goes Double Espresso for folk in the Stockbridge area and Grande Americano for the rest of Edinburgh. But that’s just the way it goes. If you are not a big brand then it does take a bit of extra hot foamy milk and caramel syrup to get noticed and a bit more chocolate dust on the top to get someone to take the bold step and actually come in to sample your tasty marshmallows. Our street is still a little under appreciated and so I’d like to raise a coffee mug to our street to toast some of our marshmallows.
Many years ago, my favourite Teutonic chanteuse, Nico lived here with punk poet John Cooper Clark. With the threat of demolition and cheap rent, St. Stephen Street had attracted penniless artistic types and became trendy with baggy-kaftan wearing flat-white and skint bohos. The weird and the wise, the decadent and the woahoa! Hold on a minute, there’s a shop here that only sells oil lamps!* Here we also have the only Gramophone and 78rpm record specialist shop in the UK too. Elaine’s vintage clothing shop doesn’t even have a sign.
Since opening, we’ve befriended most of the other businesses on the street and helped to set up the St Stephen Street Trader’s Association. In recent years there have been new shops opening that have the young energy and great passion for what they do and that has helped awaken our once bohemian street. I suppose St Stephen Street had become a little tired in recent years.
With the injection of new blood, our street has rubbed its eyes, scratched it’s backside a bit and awoken. We’ve jumped out of bed, had our vitamin fortified cereal, gulped down a mug of instant coffee, most of us showered a bit and brushed our teeth standing in the bath in the shower, we towel dried and put on some fresh and really tight underwear and then some other clothes and we are finally up and out the door and are raring to go. There is definitely a feel of community in the air, all of us sharing the freshly washed, tight new pants feeling. The street feels vibrant again and it feels like we’ve always been here before.
Meetings with the Council have led to the new street signs and hopefully more prominence on the broader Edinburgh tourist map. In the meantime, we have set up a street website: http://www.ststephenstreet.com/*
At VoxBox, we like our hot drinks and buy our tea and scones from Rosie at The Proper Tea Shop across the road and get great sit-in coffee and the odd lunch from Sprio. We’ll buy the occasional jumper from Claire who owns vintage clothes shop Those Were The Days across the street. She will bring in a friend who might buy a record or two. I’ll nip into Sarah at Hibiscus Flower for a fair trade gift for a birthday. I win a Hibiscus Flower voucher in a local charity raffle! Street meetings are at The Antiquary pub and the wine flows. The VoxBox DJ Night starts at The Last Word Saloon down the road on the last Thusday of the month. VoxBox’s George has the odd meal at Purslane or The Blue Parrot or The Stockbridge Restaurant. Bill from Bells diner will buy a few CDs to play in his restaurant. We’ll eat the best burgers in Edinburgh in Bell’s Diner. Elaine from the vintage clothes shop down the road buys a Country Joe album from us. I’ll point folk her way and then late on Saturday, I buy some Bessie Smith 78s from Billy at the Gramophone Emporium across the road and he keeps the money.
Starbucks is fine, but don’t forget that a little goes a long way. If you spend a small amount in a wee shop on St Stephen Street, you can feel chipper knowing that your money could circulate locally for a week and eventually keep me in Bluesy 78s and the Gramophone Emporium’s Billy living in the lap of luxury, (probably) helping to fuel the decadent and lavish lifestyle that he has become accustomed to.
This is also a broad invite to Edinburgh folks to come and have a more than a peek at St Stephen Street and also at Stockbridge. Get up and down the steps and into the smaller shops. You’re always in for a cheery grande-caramel-aribica-double-shot-espresso-mocha-chocca-latte-marshmallowtastic-welcome. Sometimes with sprinkles on top too.
* Set up buy JoJo of Lilies and Dreams on our street.