I can’t fault any record store with a bar out the back, but having talked to Mojo Record Bar’s Dan Hoskin, I can tell that it’s much more than the novelty factor that brings customers through the door. Though their location in Martin Place might draw in a slightly different crowd to other record stores around Sydney, the passion for music and the drive to create a community is evident in Hoskin’s store, which he manages and works in mostly on his own.
“I think the crowd between the store and the bar is slightly separate,” says Hoskin. “Like, there’s a lot of people that go to the bar and don’t buy records and there’s a lot of people that come into the shop that would probably buy one drink while they’re here but won’t just go to the bar all the time. But we do get some drunk people coming in and spending a bit of money, which is good.
“It’s probably different to a lot of other record stores just because it’s attached to the bar and where it is. It’s kind of in a more financial, business crowd type area, so we don’t get that much younger foot traffic which a lot of the stores in Newtown would get. But you still get people in that crowd who are interested in new music. What I’ve definitely noticed in the past year is that our best customers in the store are not regulars in the bar.”
Though Mojo is a store in relative infancy, especially in the current location, Hoskin sees stores like the nearby Red Eye Records as a kind of blueprint for growing the store and building a community around it. “Once you’ve got a little community going around a shop, it’s pretty invaluable. We don’t really have that hugely here at the moment. I look at more established stores that have had a more solid management and a certain couple people running it for a while, [and they] have created a little scene, almost, around their store, which is something I’d eventually love to get going here with more in-store gigs and stuff. In that way people get to know you more and they become invested in the shop.
“It’s not just like going to buy milk at the supermarket, where you would rather not have to talk to anyone there… that’s not the kind of experience you’d really want at a record store. You’d rather have familiar faces and stuff happening”
Being the one person working in the store from Monday to Friday, that familiarity for the customer is something that Hoskin sees as an advantage for Mojo. “We’ve got Red Eye Records down the road, and they’re pretty well established, [so] most people are just going to go there because they know it, and they probably wouldn’t know we’re here. But I think the people that do come here have noticed a difference.
“I guess the fact that I’m the only one working here means that if somebody comes in after something particular I’ll be able to help them out pretty quickly. If they come in the next day, it’ll be me, or if they call, it’ll be me, or if they email, it’ll be me. It’s a very personal experience, which a lot of people have liked. I had a guy last week come in, he was after a record for his housemate’s birthday I think, and I was helping him out trying to figure out where he could get it from and he said ‘I think you’re the most responsible record store person I’ve dealt with in Sydney so far’, just because I knew what was going on and how to do everything and could do it right there and then.”
However, it’s not like there’s a heap of angst between the two stores. “There’s certain things that they sell that we don’t sell… and I do have to send people down there sometimes which I don’t mind doing, and they send people up here too. There’s not really any bad blood or anything, and in some ways I think it’s good because a lot of people have been shopping there for years and if they find us they’ll probably think, ‘oh this is cool, they’ve got some weird, unique, music up here, the prices are good’.”
Mojo Record Bar is located at 73 York Street, Sydney. For more information visit mojorecordbar.com.