Alison runs Vintage & Vinyl in the Old High Street, a shop of simple pleasures – music in the form of records and top quality wine from local producers.
Alisson: I’m originally from Durham in the North East of England, but lived abroad from nearly 10 years and finally made Kent my home in the year 2000. In 2014 I had saved up enough capital so that I could give up my job and finally open the shop I had been hankering after for years. Together with my partner Kevin we planned our shop – Vintage & Vinyl – full of all the things we love. For me it is all about music and wine as well as fun and colourful gifts, and for him it is models – plastic model kits and remote controlled models. He now has his own shop in Tontine Street for the models and I focus on stocking the very best new and used records, wonderful wines from Kent and Sussex and Pro-Ject Audio systems.
Old High Street? The Old High Street was the perfect choice of location for us as the shops are owned by the Creative Foundation, who are brilliant landlords as we are all striving to make Folkestone a better place to live and work. The Foundation is making a fantastic difference to the town with its regeneration projects and the positive marketing messages they are getting out to national and international media.
Wine and music? Apart from the fact that they go so well together – they are both something I really enjoy. My first job while I was a teenager and still at school in the 80s was at Virgin Records in Durham. After school I’d walk into town to Virgin, take up the duster and hoover, clean the shop, make tea for the staff and get rid of all the empty boxes from the day’s new stock. I loved it – the few pounds I made was spent on records. My love of music has always been there. When I lived abroad my music went with me and I was always the one getting friends together to go to as many gigs as possible. So having my own record shop is wonderful. What could be better than talking to passionate people, listening to records all day, having no one but yourself to answer to and making a living from it?
With regards to the wine – I lived in France for almost 10 years and do love good food and wine. We are lucky enough to live in a region where we make amazing win that wins gold medals in the main International Wine and Spirits Competitions. You can’t get better than that, can you?
So it was easy to approach the fantastic local vineyards and get their unique product on the shelves next to a wonderful selection of music. Forget the housework for a while and enjoy a record with a glass of wine – simple pleasures make life very enjoyable.
Local? I enjoy sourcing the best products from people who are working hard to make a living locally. Ultimately this could be what keeps the UK economy strong. I like to support local producers and I hope customers keep supporting me. My local suppliers are Chapel Down, Biddenden Vineyards, Bolney Wine Estate, Gusbourne Estate, Hush Heath Winery, and Seddlescombe Organic Vineyard. Also I buy from local artists such as Claire Fletcher and James Jackson who are both very talented, as well as Cable and Cotton, who make the wonderful colourful fairy lights, who are based in Sussex.
Independent shop vs dealer shop? As an independent shop I hope that customers appreciate that sometimes I can’t always compete with Amazon or all the other large online retailers on every single product, (although I do try to match their prices and often I am cheaper), however the benefits to the town are much greater that the £1 extra you might sometimes have to pay to buy something from a local shop.
Keeping our town alive is important. Nobody wants to live in a ghost town where everything is run down and all the shops have closed down. By shopping in the independent shops in Folkestone rather than online or with retailers who have deserted the town (such as HMV), local people will keep the high street vibrant. One or two extra customers per day makes a huge difference to me and whether I can pay my bills and keep the shop stocked with new and different products.
Equally the advantage of a local shop to customers is that you can ask me to get specific records for you and I will reliably track it down and get exactly what you want quickly. Just ask!
Pro-ject audio Systems? Pro-Ject audio equipment is hand crafted in Europe. The owner of Pro-Ject is so passionate about music and has been all of his life. Every item he builds is made to get the very best sound out of your records.
All the components (except the cartridges) are made in-house – even down to the tiny screws on the tonearm. Having visited both the head office in Vienna in Austria and the factory in Czech Republic, I saw the carbon tonearms being moulded and the platters being balanced and painted. Everything is made by specialists and done with great care. No other turntables gets more 5 star reviews from the Hi-Fi magazines and reviewers than Pro-Ject.
Their range is considerable and each turntable not only sounds great but is a design piece. I cannot recommend them enough.
Folkestone? Folkestone is a great place to live and to visit. The beach, the harbour, the warren, the coastal park, the Leas, the Old High Street and the countryside that surrounds the town are all wonderful. There are 3 theatres that get acts such as Wolf Alice and The Divine Comedy, comedy nights, accommodation to suit every budget, nice restaurants…there’s a lot going on if you want a night out or a weekend in Folkestone.
A hidden place in Folkestone
Leigh Mulley’s huge Seagull painting in the Lidl carpark – it is truly magnificent!
Something you would only see in Folkestone
The Triennial Art works are scattered around the town – if you know where to look! Grab a map and go for a walking tour, you will see artworks from Tracey Emin, Yoko Ono and many more world renowned artists.
There are lots of lovely walks in Folkestone – across the top of the cliffs or down on the beach, or through woodland towards Dover – something for every mood and weather.
Best coffee shop
Congo – they make wonderful cakes.
Best concert venue
The Leas Cliff Hall and The Quarterhouse
Best shopping place
The Old High Street (of course)
Best kids activity
For younger kids the Coastal Park is great. There is a huge play area for climbing and exploring and it’s all free!
VINTAGE & VYNIL
Address: 57 The Old High Street, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1RN
T 01303 246715
Monday: 10.30 – 5.00
Tuesday: 10.30 – 5.00
Wednesday: 10.30 – 5.00
Thursday: Usually Closed
Friday: 10.30 – 5.00
Saturday: 10.00 – 5.00