Grassed Off -Part I

“I’m expecting you not to turn up”

A record dealer I know has been doing record fairs for 25 years and he has been taking stalls in the Grassmarket for 20 odd years. You could find him during the Jazz and Blues Festival, The Fringe Festival, The Meadows Festival and often in the odd Christmas tent in the Grassmarket in December. Round, round, get around, he gets around.

Anyway, this year, you may have noticed that there were no stalls selling records (or clothes for that matter) during The Jazz and Blues Festival last weekend. Keep off the Grassmarket! [After speaking directly to the organiser that this was due to the objection of a shop owner]

That was a shame though, as lots of people come down to the Grassmarket for the record stalls that have been a feature there for many years. Some stall holders have been there selling vinyl for 20 years. When the media talk of the vinyl revival, some of us shrug it off with a knowing smile as we know that our beloved vinyl never really went away. It was sold from stalls and small record shops. Some successful stall holders will go on to open record shops of their own! I can think of a few Edinburgh shops in the Grassmarket that started with a stall themselves.

To some tourists and locals too, the record stalls have become an expected feature. Customers would browse while listening to the fine live jazz and blues music. The Grassmarket is second only to our very own Stockbridge for its fine independent shops.

The solidarity between record enthusiasts and friendly banter between fellow small shops and stallholders is joyous and brings a sentimental tear to my eye.

What? What’s that you say? Record stalls in the Grassmarket (and presumably in other areas) take business away from the record shops in the Grassmarket and threaten their livelihoods?

In defence of the stall holders as I know some of them reasonably well and I can say that for them, it is often, if not their livelihood too, certainly a much needed boost to their income. The record stall holders that have been in the Grassmarket for much longer than all of the record shops there are entitled to make the reverse complaint against shops. Yet they don’t. No-one has said record shops are taking money away from the record stalls as that would be ludicrous. It would be a terrible shame if stallholders are allowed to continue to be bullied out by a hypocrite. What other stalls should be banned?

The great Charles Chaplin knew that Little Hitlers deserve to ridiculed:

Stalls don’t have overheads! But yes they do. Yes they do. Van hire, table hire, license. Parking. Boxes. Storage. And no guarantee that it won’t piss down all day. Record shops can take a stall too if they want to. I’m not too keen on doing a stall myself, I sit in a warm shop all day while my dear business partner freezes in the winter Scottish winds.

Infamy! Infamy!
I can hardly believe that I’ve felt compelled to type this thing as the points are pretty obvious -that record stalls attract record buyers to an area, helping every business that is selling the things that record buyers want whether it’s coffee, beer, Groucho Marx glasses from the joke shop or even records, CDs and whatnot. This is good for everyone as it creates a nexus. Nice word that I looked up today to be sure of the definition as I thought it was a superhero idea that didn’t really take off.

Nexus! The Liberator of record stalls!

Nexus! The Liberator of record stalls!

Which reminds me: COMIC BOOK STALLS ARE TAKING BUSINESS FROM COMIC SHOPS! And on and on it goes…

And to see the other side of the coin… Free market capitalism eh? What a pain in the ass.

*I’m pleased to say that the organisers of stalls in the Grassmarket during the later Fringe Festival in August are a charity and have not, as far as I am aware, banned anyone from taking a stall during the 3 festival weekends in August, however there is some doubt about whether these events/stalls can continue in their current form following the expected change in management of The Grassmarket.

Anyway, it would be a Shame Shame Shame if there were no-one selling a good selection of Jazz and Blues records to coincide with the next Grassmarket event as happened this year.

PART II “Grassed Up” coming up in an hour.

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