“Everything comes round” - in the groove with Chesterfield's Vanishing Point Records

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“And then, about two hundred miles in, one of my best mates became this fella who I didn’t realise at the time, but was on the run from the Belgian press, because he’d won a Belgian reality TV show...”

“His girlfriend was a French film star, and she was getting so much bad attention she kicked him out. And we were just chatting, and he asked me ‘What you doing when we finish?’ And I said ‘I’m going to open a record shop’.”

Erratically smooth jazz funk plays in the background as Corey Lavender, 47, tells his story of how Vanishing Point Records began. And what a story it is. At the point we arrive, he is walking five hundred miles from France to Northern Spain to get “clarity, and what to do in the future”.

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Before this, Corey was a chartered accountant for twenty-three years. Until “I just had one of those moments where I was sat looking around the office, looking at people twenty years my elder, and I just thought ‘They don’t look happy… I don’t want to get to that’. So I said ‘Okay, I’m leaving’.”

Corey Lavender at Vanishing Point Records, ChesterfieldCorey Lavender at Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield
Corey Lavender at Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield

Corey smiles. “It was just the best, worst, the hardest, the easiest decision I’ve ever made.”

This jazz of contraries that make perfect sense seem to sum Corey up. Intelligent and softly driven, daring decisions made with a smile and cloaked consideration.

His Chesterfield record shop, Vanishing Point, began in 2017. When asked if he was nervous at the start, Corey shakes his head.

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“No, I really wasn’t. Because having been through what I’d been through, and the confidence it had given me, the thought was, okay, the worst case is I don’t pay my bills, and I don’t do it anymore.”

Vanishing Point Records, Theatre Yard, Low Pavement, ChesterfieldVanishing Point Records, Theatre Yard, Low Pavement, Chesterfield
Vanishing Point Records, Theatre Yard, Low Pavement, Chesterfield

A man crate-digging LPs by the counter looks up, says “Brave decision”, laughter mixing with the sound of a saxophone solo.

Where did the love of music begin? “When I was a kid I had a little record player. And I had singles that I’d inherited. But the first one I bought… and I’d love it to be something cool like a Bob Dylan thing or something… but it wasn’t. It was Pinky and Perky singing Yellow Submarine.”

Laughter drowns the saxophone. “I was about four or five when I was into that scene,” Corey adds, shrugging.

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After scenes of chart music, Rage Against The Machine and Britpop, the ‘something cool like a Bob Dylan thing’ came, somewhat begrudgingly, later.

Inside Vanishing Point Records, ChesterfieldInside Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield
Inside Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield

“My dad had always been into Bob Dylan. But I was like ‘My dad was into it so I’m not really that bothered’. And then, I had a mate, and he’s into Bob Dylan, and all of a sudden it starts getting in there. I went and saw him in concert. 1997 Wembley Arena. And it was alright. But then I went to Copenhagen and saw him there. Right down the front. And it was like ‘Yes, I like this’. So, my Bob Dylan fixation started. And I’m forty-five gigs in now.”

This ‘wow moment’ pauses as a man slow approaches the counter with a white cane in one hand, and a stack of 7” singles in the other. The lady with him smiles as Corey is asked to check for scratches. When asked “Why singles?” the man smiles, says “I just love them”.

Listening to the conversation between Corey and the couple, the familiarity tells of regular visits to Vanishing Point.

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“I get people that come in on their weekly visits, because you’re part of their routine. Then you’ve got the fortnightly ones. And there’s a bit of science behind it. They’ll come in, but they won’t come in the week after because that’d be too quickly, there’d be nothing new.”

Looking through the window at Vanishing Point Records, ChesterfieldLooking through the window at Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield
Looking through the window at Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield

“There’s a guy from Japan that comes in twice a year. He’s here for about three hours. Some people come in and want to look through every record. They don’t want to feel like they’ve missed out.”

A man comes to the counter and points to a David Bowie poster on the wall. “How much is that Ziggy poster?”

Corey says “A tenner if I’ve got one”, and fishes in a box by the counter. Chat is had and the man leaves happy. Corey is an easy talker. We talk about town, and an old photo of New Square, kids playing in the fountain while the grown-ups sit round chatting.

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“That’s it. I think in society these days, we’ve forgotten how to be social. Social media is great in so many ways, but it’s used by certain folk to divide us as well. People don’t need to fall out as much as they do. Chat to people. You’ll feel better.”

The conversation turns to the town centre debate.

“I know it’s tough, but compared to other towns we’re in a great place to start off. We can moan until the cows come home that it’s not what it used to be, and it never will be, because we’ve changed.”

Corey, crate-digging at Vanishing Point Records, ChesterfieldCorey, crate-digging at Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield
Corey, crate-digging at Vanishing Point Records, Chesterfield

How does Corey see the walk forward? “We’ve got the tools there. I think the one problem we’ve got is if we are still billing ourselves as a market town… People might be disappointed on what they think is a market day and there’s not a lot going on. Then, you miss out on any repeat custom. Whereas, if there were more specialist market days?”

When asked if competition happens between the indie shops, Corey laughs, shakes his head.

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“Me and Maria at Tallbird… I’m always being told ‘We’ve been sent down here by Tallbird’. And we all do the same… I think it does the town good to be like that. Why would you not do someone a favour? If you do someone a favour, your turn will come and someone will do you a favour. Everything comes round.”

Corey can be heard chatting and spinning records (minus Pinky and Perky) on Radio Free Matlock.

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