The History of Norman Records
How one man's impossible dream became, erm, a semi-functioning business with staff and accounts and premises and stuff.
In the beginning (1995-1999)
Norman Records was born in 1995 when Phil set up the business in the attic of his terraced house in the Hyde Park area of Leeds.
Initially selling via ads in Record Collector magazine, by 1997 Phil was employing extra members of staff to deal with the volume of parcels that were being carted off to the local post office.
First record sold? No idea. "Probably something by Cows," according to Phil.
The early years (1999-2003)
In 1999, with a bedroom ceiling beginning to sag due to the sheer weight of vinyl upon it, office premises were found in an old Victorian school in Armley, Leeds. This is where the story really begins. Using an ancient, wheezing, dial-up internet connection a basic website was built offering the latest releases at low prices with super-fast shipping.
The 'famous' Norman Records reviews started around this time, mainly written by Phil as other members of staff shouted their opinions from across the room. Eventually staff were writing their own reviews providing passionate, knowledgeable and idiosyncratic opinions.
As night follows day, the extra space available led to a huge increase in the amount of stock we started to hold. To cope with the sheer number of records needing packing and reviewing, more staff were gradually employed.
The difficult teenage period (2003-2010)
The decline of physical sales that began in the early 2000s presented challenges. We kept on finding the best new music out there. We kept plugging away at the reviews. And whilst we kept refining the site (making it as simple and fast as we could) we resisted the siren calls of the download markets, stuck to our guns, and continued to support the physical formats.
Traffic rose, we were able to ride out the slump, and found ourselves at the forefront of a vinyl revival...
Leaving school (2010-now)
In 2010 we outgrew the antiquated Armley school and moved to larger premises in a brutalist 60s council building in Holbeck, 15 minutes from the centre of Leeds. Fun times.
As well offering a much bigger space for the ever-growing stockroom, the move allowed us to officially open to the public. Although not a store in the conventional sense (far from it) customers can not only walk in and buy but ’click and collect’ ofter ordering online. A bit like an Argos for vinyl lovers.
Having a physical presence also allows us to take part in Record Store Day, the first of which was a cold, frantic morning in April 2013 when crowds snaked down the stairs and out the doors of the building.
We are proud to have been trading for 23 years and proud that the same ideals we started out with are still in place today. And as long as you lovely folk keep buying records, we'll keep selling and reviewing them.
Unit 20, Croydon House,
LS11 9RT, UK.
Company number: 06789647
We're not your normal record shop...
Please note that whilst we're always happy to see you, we are not a normal record shop where you can come and browse the stacks.
There are no stacks.
Nope, instead we are basically a kind of brutalist Argos for vinyl records. So, instead of trudging all the way to sunny Holbeck in anticipation of being able to flick through shelf after shelf of releases, please place your orders online first and use our 'In-store collect' option in the checkout.