Record shop and juke box hire firm hits a high note

The Advertiser Series: LIFELONG PASSION: Gary Lewis. LIFELONG PASSION: Gary Lewis.

A RETIRED police officer who turned his passion for vinyl into a thriving business is hoping to franchise the idea in Scotland.

Gary Lewis, 53, started a juke box hire business with personalised playlists for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations and parties 15 years ago, and has since seen the company evolve into selling juke boxes and original vinyl records from the 20th century.

Mr Lewis opened the first Better Daze Juke Box Parties and Record Shop in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, in 2008, moving to bigger premises in Northallerton two years later, and has also opened premises in Ripon.

His Northallerton shop is now five times the size of the original premises, and includes a listening booth and a film memorabilia section.

He is looking at taking on staff in the new year, and is also considering franchising the business after being inundated with requests for his juke box hire with tailor-made playlists in Scotland.

Mr Lewis, who retired from North Yorkshire Police in 2008, first started collecting vinyl records aged 11.

The business began in 1997, when he brought along his juke box to a friend’s party, with a selection of records the pair had agreed. The firm still hires out the juke boxes with original vinyl singles, which are selected by the customer to give the party a unique and tailored playlist.

“I have been buying vinyl since I was 11 – I am 53 now. You need to know your stuff to be a record dealer," he said.

“It is a very specialist subject. You can’t just learn about it in a week.”

He said that some of his customers were as young as eight.

“There is a 12-year-old girl who comes in every week to buy vinyl after her mum bought her a record player.

“There is also an eight-year-old boy who comes in with his dad, who is teaching him all about vinyl and how to put the needle on a record.

“I think people are realising there is no better format to listen to music on than vinyl. The best reproduction comes from good-quality vinyl played on a good quality record player.

“I am lucky enough to have been able to turn a life-long hobby into a business.”

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