Some brands manage to embed themselves in the affections and the memories of the general public. Some brands don’t.
For example...does anyone remember Zavvi? Entertainment shop. Green writing on black shop front. Went bust a few years back? Might be starting to sound familiar in a sort of ‘oh yeah, them’ kind of way. Did it register that they declared bankruptcy? If so, did you really care?
The answer is probably going to be ‘no’, unless you worked there. Admittedly you might have been inconvenienced by your nearest entertainment shop closing, but you probably weren’t saddened by it as such. Comparing this relative indifference with coverage of HMV’s store closures last year demonstrates just how embedded in the nation’s affections HMV has become - as it prepares to move once more on the high street of Newcastle. The instantly recognisable logo of a dog staring down the funnel of a gramophone brings back memories of musical discovery for multiple generations in a way that other entertainment retailers don’t.
Children of the 1970s might remember a small ‘EMI Records and Tapes’ store opening in 1975. It occupied slightly poky premises on the bottom floor of the then brand new, state of the art Pearl Assurance House on the junction between Northumberland Street and New Bridge Street. Within a few months the store changed its name to HMV and adopted the dog and gramophone logo. It’s been a stalwart of Northumberland Street’s ever-changing roster of shops since.
It established itself as a favourite among Newcastle music fans, and soon outgrew its poky corner premises. A move down the road to current Superdrug premises allowed the brand more floorspace, greater footfall and the ability to attract some big name stars. Simple Minds stopped off for a signing event there and drew such a crowd that the entirety of Northumberland Street had to be closed off. The store went one better in 1992, starring in the music video for Take That’s 1992 hit ‘Satisfied’. Filmed during a busy signing event, it also featured crowds of teenage music fans and helped propel Take That’s debut album ‘Take That And Party’ to number two in the UK charts.
After a midnight opening in 1996, it moved to its current premises at 15-21 Northumberland Street with a well-attended midnight opening event. Bona-fide 90s kids might recognise the special guests in the photos as girl band Eternal and acting-come-musical duo-come-TV presenters Ant and Dec, although 1996 being the height of Byker Grove’s popularity they still preferred to go by character names PJ and Duncan back then.
Previously, these new three floor premises had had a bit of a turbulent history. The address had originally been occupied by long-standing Newcastle department store and institution Callers, unitl the original building burnt down in a fire caused by a faulty and flammable but otherwise delightfully Dickensian Christmas window display in December 1969. Whilst a new building with a greyish, pebble-dashed front was built in its place, Callers eventually shut its doors in 1982, leaving the place to be let by a trail of companies who struggled to hold on to it long-term. HMV managed to successfully set up shop there for eighteen years, breaking the cycle of bitty short term lets that had plagued the building since Callers left.
The official opening of the Eldon Square store on July 31st will officially mark the end of HMV’s thirty nine-year presence on Northumberland Street. It’s certainly a significant turning point for the brand, but it’s also worth considering how this reflects current consumer trends. Newcastle’s main shopping street will, after July 31st, contain no music or entertainment shops whatsoever. On the other hand, there is currently and all-time high of seven mobile phone shops on the street.
We’d love to hear all of your HMV Newcastle memories. Why not drop us a comment in the section below, or tweet your thoughts and pictures to us @TheJournalNews?