Wednesday, 3 June 2015

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Steph Garner (Bridport Music)

STEPH Garner and her husband Piers have been at the helm of Bridport Music for the last 35 years. Born in Kent, Mrs Garner, 57, grew up in Southampton and lived in Scotland for five years before moving on to study biology at Sheffield University. Married in 1980, the couple have three children, all of whom now live away from home but regularly return to the area. Bridport Music has become a focal point of the town’s thriving arts community, and its annual Record Store Day celebrations in April attract visitors from across the South West.

WHEN did you first move to the area?
I moved here in 1980 when I married Piers, who had by then been managing the shop - then called Bridport Record Centre - for a year. Prior to that I had been conducting a wildlife survey on the grounds of Warwickshire College of Agriculture with another graduate.

WHAT do you like most about Bridport? 
The town has a great atmosphere, especially on sunny market days. It's the ideal combination of coast, countryside and interesting shops.  I can't imagine not living here now.

HOW did Bridport Music come about?
I've been a partner in the business for about 30 years. The business was started by our brother-in-law in 1976 (we think) at the premises he then owned - H. E. Bell, a general store located further down South Street. So we're coming up for a big anniversary next year!

DO you have a background in music? 
I have no musical background at all but I’ve always loved listening to music and watching bands live. I listen to BBC Radio 6Music as much as possible - it's the best place to hear new music.

WHAT was the first record you bought?
It was either Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’ or Dave Edmunds’ ‘I Hear You Knocking’, both on seven inch vinyl of course.

RECORD Store Day has proved a very successful event over the last few years. Why do you think it's so important that vinyl lives on?
You are more likely to listen to a whole album properly all the way through on vinyl, which is most likely what the artist intended you to do - those that put out the physical product anyway. The sound quality is much better than on MP3s too.

BRIDPORT has a thriving arts community. Why do you think its independent venues and shops have been able to survive, unlike other towns in the South West?
We have weathered several recessions by a combination of ‘hanging on in there’ and diversifying. We've gone from selling just vinyl, cassettes and videos to CDs too and now musical instruments, radios, music books and related accessories. Stocktaking is certainly a challenge! It's hard work but we love what we do and it's our living.

WILL we see you on the festival circuit this year, or will you be watching from in front of the TV?
Sadly we are unable to get away from the shop to go to festivals so TV it is! We used to be able to get Sunday tickets for Glastonbury but that's almost impossible now.

DO you have any life lessons that you stick to?
If I have a particularly daunting task or problem ahead of me I don't try to tackle it all in one go. I nibble away at it until when I absolutely have to complete or solve it I've almost done it and it doesn't seem so bad after all. Like this interview - it's taken me three attempts!

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