Beanos – my favourite-ever record store is closing

A Croydon quality that likely inspired the new local crop – Skream, GoldieLocks, Lele et al – is the abundance of well-stocked, expert and independent music shops in the town centre. Or rather, was the abundance of well-stocked, expert and independent music shops in the town centre.  For, a classic sign of the times, they’ve been steadily disappearing.  And now, after a long, exaggerated fight, Beanos, the best and biggest of them all, and perhaps the last decent survivor, is itself heading off to the big record shop in the sky.  It sure must be getting crowded up there…

When I was a real young’un, Beanos – a second-hand musical swap shop – was located in a narrow building on Surrey Street Market, thousands upon thousands of records crammed into three storeys of claustrophobic, charming chaos.  There I picked up my first albums – by the Levellers and Carter USM – and came to understand the wondrous feeling that comes with browsing boxes of discs or vinyl… flicking faster and faster with your forefinger, brain rapidly relaying ‘no’s and the occasional ‘whoa hold on a second’, and wallet registering a deep, easily-ignored objection on financial grounds.  Overhead a song plays, then another; people brush past or stand next to you, there one hour, gone the next; and slowly, ever so slowly, you build up a pile of choice musical goods to take home and make mixtapes from.

Beanos later moved a few yards north, to a much bigger building; again three floors, but far wider and more spacious. The staff were friendly, the stock laid-out sensibly and the catalogue impossibly deep and – unlike many second-hand record stores – very current.  There were live performances from local bands.  A small cafe appeared on the top floor.  A sister store selling videos and later DVDs opened two doors distant. Beanos was busy, bright-thinking and seemingly in its zenith.

Ever since years started beginning with twos and not ones, though, Beanos has been fighting a losing battle versus that most common of problems: the internet.  Large record stores it could fight price-wise, but sites like Amazon, with their sheer depth, floor-trailing prices and ease of use, held too many cards.  I’m quite part of the blame, having bought something on Amazon in 30 seconds in favour of journeying to Beanos in the hope they’d have the same record.  Then again, I do always try to visit Beanos when in Croydon; if more for the experience and memories, rather than in search of something specific (although I will buy things).

Less and less people frequent the shop’s magical floors though, and that’s why managing director David has finally called time on a sprawling, drawn-out final sale, and revealed that Beanos will close on 31 August.  True to style, he signed off with The Doors’ immortal line… “This is the End, my friend”.  In replacement will come an indoor market open for Christmas; David promises it will be fabulous; perhaps so, but it sure won’t be Beanos and that makes it a terrific shame.

As the final countdown ticks onward, bargains a plenty remain: everything in Beanos is currently half-price. Bearing in mind how cheap the stuff is in the first place, this is the musical equivalent of getting a fortnight in the Maldives for the cost of three nights at Butlins.  If you have any proximity to Croydon, get down there and experience the magic while there’s still time.

Beanos website
Middle Street, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 1RE
020 8680 1202
It’s a ten-minute walk from East Croydon station, which has 12-minute connections to London Victoria and London Bridge.

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~ by ripamel on 22/07/2009.

One Response to “Beanos – my favourite-ever record store is closing”

  1. […] closes early Further to my earlier post, I’m sad, really sad and sick in fact, to report that Beanos record stores has now […]

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