These days the online vinyl community is so supportive and intertwined that it can feel like you actually know people you’ve never met. Part of what we all love about record stores is that sense of community, but in some cases opening a record store online can have the same affect, and a brick and mortar isn’t always everyone’s goal. Zoe Taylor is the co-owner of Peppermintstore Records an online record shop selling new, second hand, and rare records. The business is set up so that Zoe and her husband get the best of both worlds, working from home slinging records, while also showing up in person for a monthly market in the Taylor’s hometown of Leighton Buzzard, UK. They also have a quarterly record fair stall! Zoe considers herself the “sensible” one at Peppermintstore, as well as wearing the hats of supporter and cheerleader for their business.
Outside of work Zoe is a full time Mom stating, ” I don’t really have time for hobbies with a two year old, haha! I am a real family person and a lot of my time is spent with them.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
My husband Dan, the other half of the business and his passion for vinyl. I’d like to take credit for the start of Peppermintstore Records but in reality it was all his idea. I wanted to support and help him and here we are seven years later.
What is a day in the life like?
Life now is mostly spent looking after my 2 year old son Stanley. As we are an online business, we don’t have a physical shop to run. Time is mostly spent checking online orders and looking for stock. A lot of time is spent at the local post office too!
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
I wouldn’t say there was one in particular, we have so many. But for us it’s not just about one sale / relationship, its about making friends with our customers, getting to know them and becoming part of our bigger network.
In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / the thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?
To be honest with you the struggle is real with all the new stuff we get, as we want to keep a lot of it! But we do struggle most with selling anything by Oasis! Its also some of the coolest stuff to come through our shop at the moment too!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
From a business perspective always listen to your customers and always buy quality. More importantly do it for the love! I think if you aren’t passionate about it it won’t work.
The little buzz you get when you find something thats rare or when a customer finds a record that takes them back to a time in their life that they have fond memories of, that’s what you do it for. Those are the moments that make this business great!
Are you a vinyl collector yourself?
It’s hard not to be! I don’t have a particular type of genre I favor, my collection is random. Certain songs / bands mean different things to me as a person. Thats whats great about music, no two people will ever have the same collection as songs mean different things to different people. My husband Dan got me into vinyl, I was part of the mp3 / download generation growing up. I have him to thank for that. My son Stanley loves it when we pop some tunes on. He loved listening to Ogdens Nut Gone Flake, by Small Faces when he was tiny. Used to get him to sleep.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
For us covid has had it challenges. When it first hit here business boomed as people had no where to go, money to spend and all the time in the world to listen to music. The struggle started as we came out of the pandemic, business slowed right down. Being a mostly online record shop the fact people were allowed to go out and physically shop again hit us hard. Business is great again and now we have a monthly pitch at a local market, it is lovely seeing our online customers face to face. We have also lost a lot of sales abroad due to Brexit. Postage went nuts when it all happened and its all so expensive now people don’t want to pay it, which is a great shame for us.
Also, for me personally I have had to deal with some difficult situations of late regarding imagery we have used for our posters and social media. As well as having a market stall we also host quarterly record fairs. We always make a different poster for each fair and we have always used the image of a woman on every one. The last one we did we used an image of a woman in her pants (more like shorts) and a vest listening to records. Well, I was harassed / verbally abused by members of the public (all men – not one single woman I might add) over the photo used. I was told it was sexist, prejudiced and promotes the types of behaviors that cause men to attack (even murder was mentioned) women. I was physically upset. As a woman in the industry, and just as a woman in general, I don’t appreciate being told that we must cover up to stop ourselves being harassed and attacked. Screw that, we are not responsible for other peoples behaviors, they are! How people chose to interpret the image used is their problem, not mine. They have sexualized it, not me. The image was used to empower women, to take back these types of images as ours again and not those to attract or encourage others unwanted attention.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Things that excite me in the industry right now are the rise of independent record labels, and the new vinyl pressing facilities in the UK. There are more and more places now that press vinyl in the UK making it easier for bands to have their music pressed to vinyl, which are big sellers at merch stands and gigs. This is great for new, upcoming bands, and the industry.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Buy local and from independents. Whether that be visiting an actual shop or buying online. A lot of the independents we know have young families and your money is much more appreciated by us / those than corporate companies with no real passion for what they do and sell. Us independents really appreciate you and it means so much more to us.
Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me: What is your favorite music genre or band right now?
Right now i listen to quite a lot of 90’s guitar stuff. I am listening to a lot of Britpop at the minute. Mind you my taste is so random on a daily basis.