Back in January of this year it came to light that Belfast’s biggest independent music store, Head, would be closing down. This was met with major disappointment and anger within the local music scene and by the general public, especially when it was revealed that the clothing brand ‘Superdry’ would be taking over the lease. This was particularly hard to stomach when the management team revealed that – “The store traded very well over Christmas easily beating its targets and has continued to build its reputation since opening in October 2010…The store is closing as our lease came to an end and Superdry came in with a better offer than ourselves.”
Such was the controversy regarding the news, a Facebook campaign ‘Save Head’ was run by local fans. Despite gathering over 1,500 fans, a new location wasn’t found and despite assurances from management they were looking for a new location, various sources suggested it would be the end of Head in Belfast.
Fast forward to June- bringing the welcome news that Head would be re-opening. But where? Indeed many thought we should not get our hopes up in case it was wild speculation. But sure enough we finally got confirmation that Head would be re-opening on Saturday 14th July in Ann Street – a stone’s throw from the old Victoria Square location.
What was so special about Head you ask? Well they were big supporters of the local music scene with a lot of artists having their records stocked on the shelves. This was great for local music fans as HMV, while they stock some local artists, didn’t have the range available in Head. Indeed, before Head closed their doors, they asked local bands to come in and collect money they made from sales, showing the nature of the personal relationships between bands and the staff. Not only did they work with local bands, they also worked with local media like AU Magazine, stocking their magazine and running promotions. E.g. ‘10% off the Japanese Popstar’s latest album when you buy a copy of AU.
Live in-store shows from local and visiting artists were also a frequent and welcome treat. Artists like Josh T Pearson, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Bombay Bicycle Club all made appearances; the sessions were widely praised bringing large numbers of fans to the store. We eagerly wait to see what live sessions they have lined up when they re-launch. Then of course who can forget their participation in the annual Record Store Days, where they displayed wide selections of vinyl and exclusive limited editions. Such was the admiration from local music fans; Head was voted the best indie record store in Northern Ireland 2011. Special mention should also be given to the staff who are friendly, approachable and happy to help, so it is nice to hear that some of them will be getting their old positions back.
Head gave us prices that matched tough competition like Amazon. Many bargains and fond memories are to be found hoking through the “3 for 99p” section. Not to mention their selection of books, DVDs, Blu-Rays and t-shirts that also adorned the store shelves.
All of the above combined to create a cult like status for the record shop and it is to my personal delight and those thousands of other customers, that Head will be re-opening on Saturday 14 th July 2013 in Ann Street, Belfast. Please go down and buy some music from the fantastic selection of local artists and support your local community and music scene. Perhaps even more importantly, let’s make sure that Head sticks around this time!