Confessions of a record store owner: one year Crevette Records

Pictures by Saskia Vanderstichele & Pim Thomas

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Even though vinyl sales have definitely gone up significantly the last few years, actually opening up your own record store still remained risky business. That didn’t stop Brusseleir Pim Thomas (who also plays DJ-sets under the name of Alfred Anders) to do exactly that one year ago. Fast forward to this weekend and there’s a lot to celebrate. In a record time, Crevette Records has installed itself as the place in town to quench your thirst for black gold. With a solid party in Fuse and a massive sales weekender on the agenda, it promises to be a birthday for the books. While Pim is packing up orders and standing behind the sales counter, we took a look back at what a crazy ride one year of Crevette Records has been so far.

Hello Pim! One year of Crevette Records already! How is life treating you at the moment?

"Well, I have to say I kind of underestimated the workload a little bit. A lot of people assume I’m living on a fairly relaxed schedule because the store opens at noon every day, but that’s not the case, really. My work doesn’t start and stop on the opening hours. When the last costumer closes the door, there’s still loads of work to be done. But I don’t mind that, I do this for me. I love my job, so I wouldn’t want to have it any other way."

Is business going the way you expected when you started?

"I had a particular idea of how I wanted things to turn out – and so far this hasn’t changed. Of course, business is going a little better than I had envisioned, so I couldn’t be happier with the way it's all going. We have a large, fixed clientele and we bring in new releases every day of the week. It’s a whole bunch of work, but it’s why our customers come back frequently."

Your store looks very different compared to one year ago – there are A LOT more records on display now. Was the capacity expansion a necessary move?

"Since we opened the record capacity has tripled. Just the other week we added nine new crates for record digging. We just keep buying new records. It’s not that there’s loads of records that collect dust in here, but we just expanded the variety of music we have on offer. Additionally, many great records are stocked in our basement, where no one can browse through them. The necessary space in the store was available, so expanding our capacity was a logical next step. That said, we have to make sure the store doesn’t become too overwhelming or disorientating for certain customers, especially the ones that want to take their time to browse through the whole collection. We continuously try to keep the organization and categorization of our records as clear and straightforward as possible. In this way people can always find what they are looking for with relative ease and comfort."

What does your clientele look like?

"It’s very diverse! For example, my most loyal customer is a 70-year-old guy who visits the Vossenplein (a flea market around the corner, ed.) for rare vinyl and passes by our store on a daily basis. Then, obviously, we have a whole lot of DJs that swing by for their weekly batch of fresh records. A lot of people come here for buying ‘listening music’, as opposed to dance releases. I always try to learn who likes what, so when they come back I can help them in a more personal manner. So yeah, it’s not just record collectors that come here – people of all backgrounds can find what they are looking for here."

Is it easy to calculate which records will sell and which won't?

"That’s going better and better. Sometimes you can’t predict if something will sell or not. For example: records with artwork that’s plain ugly doesn’t get picked up out the crates as much, even when the music is top notch. Then it’s my job to recommend these to the right costumers. For the stuff that doesn’t get sold after a while – which doesn’t mean they aren’t good, of course - we organize record sales twice a year. You would think we just have to sell these on Discogs (the most prominent online marketplace for vinyl records, ed.) but I prefer not to. We are, in the first place, a physical record store, so we keep the online sales to a minimum, even though it could be a lot easier for us this way."

Besides running this place, you also started a record label, a distribution network and a rotary mixer rental company this year. As if a record store alone wasn’t enough work! How are the side businesses going?

"We had the friends of Vitesse for our very first actual Crevette release. We didn’t really know how it was going to go down, but it’s completely sold out now. It feels good to see it didn’t just work in our circle of DJ friends, but for foreign markets as well. The second and third release are coming up shortly. Keep your eyes peeled! Things look great for our distribution service too. We chose to work predominantly with Belgian record labels like Basic Moves, Form And Function and Lexi Disques amongst others – crews that didn’t really have an established network. Being able to spread the sale of their records to places as far as Tokyo feels amazing, both for them and for me. As for Gino’s Rotary Rental, this wasn’t really a plan in the beginning. The demand for these rotary mixers is slowly growing. We had a few of these on sale in the store, but many people asked us if they could rent it out. So that’s exactly what we started doing."

Are you still DJ-ing on a regular basis?"

"Yeah I do, although I’m a lot pickier now. With a weekly schedule like mine I can only say yes to the gigs that are truly worth it - in my eyes. For example, this summer’s beach-side DJ-set on Croatia’s Dimensions Festival was exceptional. What a soundsystem!"

What kind of festivities can we expect this weekend?

"We host a sales weekender from Friday until Sunday with a whole bunch of instore DJ-sets by Izabel, Nosedrip, Cleveland, Vitesse, Lefto, Asa Moto and many more. You can enjoy discounts on everything we sell and cop our new merchandise – plus, the whole thing will be streamed live via our partners Plein Sud, The Word Magazine, Red Light Radio, Brussels Electronic Marathon and Contre Culture. As no birthday is complete without a party, we also host a night at Fuse on Friday with The Pilotwings, Max Abysmal, Vitesse, Tele Talks and myself. Going to need time in between for some sleep somewhere… (laughs)"

Join the festivities! Head over to the event page of the bound to be bangin' party at Fuse, or have a peek at Crevette Records' Facebook page to keep an eye on updates.