Our tour among record stores in Athens continues. In the previous stories we talked with the owners of different stores and asked them to share something about their business and experience, in this piece we visit two well-established stores with decades of work behind them and again, have a small chat with their owners.
This store, located at Kaplanon 14 street, is probably going to be one of the first that 30-50 year old Athenians will suggest you when asking them where to find good records. Opened at the beginning of 1990's, The Basement, or “To Ipogeio” in Greek, is a place that vinyl fans and collectors will definitely appreciate. Hidden in a narrow pedestrian street right in the university area, this shop has an outstanding collection of used and few re-issued vinyls. The owner, Panos, says that “you can find rock, jazz, and classics in here” and indeed you can. The space is packed with records and it will take you a while to flick through them if you do not already have an idea of what you want or of what you are looking for. Luckily Panos will be there to help you. “The store works a lot with regular clients and collectors. The crisis has been hard, twenty to thirty per cent of the business is gone. On the other hand, we started to have stronger connections to foreign collectors and clients thanks to online selling. And also, more and more young people are coming in. I think they come from houses where records were played and now they want to start their own collection”.
Plan 59 looks a lot like another store I’ve already written about, Old School Records, and that’s because they are in the same building, one next to each other, divided by the main entrance door. “It is not a rivalry though!” says Thanassis, the owner. “The store opened twelve years ago, I’ve always collected records and then I turned this passion into a business. You can find a mix of genres: 60's and 70's classic rock, 80's pop, independent and traditional Greek music. Thanassis is kind enough to share some of his thoughts on the business. “You can see vinyl is back. Business is better. It may be the nostalgia factor, it may be the fact that now a record player is seen as a piece of vintage furniture as well, it may be because young people now have access to so much music but still want the object or it may be because they can now look for something on the internet before stepping into a store and then know exactly what to ask me.”
Both stores are located in central areas of the city: Basement Record is close to the so called "thrilogy" (National Library, Academy and Univeristy of Athens) and surrounded by faculty buildings. Plan 59 is in the middle of Exarchia, a much debated neighborhood, where you'll find plenty of other record stores.
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