Featured Store: The Vault

Exciting times at The Vault as earlier this month they opened a brand-new store on Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth. With a shop in Christchurch and outlets in Boscombe and Wallisdown, it’s a busy time for owners Alan and Chrissie.

Co-Owner Alan Rowett was asked at school by his careers teacher “What do you want to do when you leave?” He replied, “Work in a record shop. It would be a fantastic dream job”. The reply was along the lines, “That’s nice, but aim a little higher my boy”. Also around this time he read an article by Radio 1 DJ John Peel. It had a picture of him surrounded by records on his desk and the floor. In the article he said one of the best things about being a DJ is that you get all your records free. “Fantastic”, he thought. “That’s what I am going to do”. The idea of working behind a record store counter disappeared.

When Bournemouth gained its first ILR radio station Two Counties Radio. He soon got involved and managed to get himself a Saturday job doing everything that no one else wanted to do. His payment for this work was that he could help himself to the massive chuck-out box of records that none of the presenters wanted. He would arrive home on Saturday evening with a bag full of free records, sometimes 40-50 singles a week. His dream had come true, a tap of free vinyl and an introduction to all genres of music.

He managed to make radio a full time career and record shops kind of disappeared off his radar for a time, because everything he wanted he got free, so what was the point?

Over the next 30 years he worked for not only ILR, but moved up to London and joined the BBC working as a producer across programmes on Radio 1, 2 and The World Service, in the process receiving every record, free, weeks before they came out. He even produced John Peel for a few years, and once over lunch told him about the story from the 1970s, and his article, and that that was why he was there now with him. But in the back of his mind he still had that other dream. What would it be like to run his own record shop?

He left the BBC in 2006 and formed his own production company, producing a number of weekly shows for stations across the world, including a weekly chart show for BBC World Service, inheriting the legendary Top Of The Pops brand he had grown up with. His family had moved to a village in North Dorset called Stalbridge, and out the back in the courtyard was an old coach house from the 19th Century. During the 20th Century it had become a slaughter house and cold store for the butcher’s shop which once occupied the front of the house.

One day after having read the book Last Shop Standing the inspiration of opening a record shop in that old slaughter house seemed like a great idea. After a few days of thinking about it, he thought why not? It’s maybe 20 years too late, but what the hell?

So in March 2012 The Vault opened its doors in the old coach house turned slaughter house and now record shop. After 30 years of playing new records on the radio, he now had the task of trying to sell those same items to a declining record-buying public. Not the easiest thing to do in a tiny village like Stalbridge, which had no through traffic and a population of 3500. Although it was great fun the shop in Stalbridge never made any money, it just broke even, some months not even doing that. It was always in the back of Alan’s mind, could a record shop in a half decent location and in a busy high street work in today’s climate.

In 2014 the opportunity arose, and best of all in his childhood home town of Christchurch in Dorset, just 100 yards away from the site where that Woolworths store used to be in the 1970’s. His partner Chrissie was driving to work and while stuck in the morning traffic, happened to notice a shop to let notice in a window. The shop was perfect.

So within 36 hours The Vault suddenly had a new home, and with overheads and bills, this new shop had to work, especially as Chrissie gave up her job to help run a record shop. Contracts signed. The new shop was stocked, decorated and opened within 3 weeks. The new Vault felt like a proper shop and best of all people came in.

The shop is a true partnership for Alan and Chrissie and it’s been a true joy. Open every day of the week, the shop has quickly established itself in the town, and built up a good number of regulars. Every corner of the shop has been filled with stock, they even got rid of the counter as it took up valuable selling space. The shop boasts the largest range of new vinyl in the county, alongside a wide range high quality second hand records.

The Vault has the atmosphere of a classic record and music shop, its run by two people who love music, but also enjoy meeting and talking music with anyone who pops into the store. Its open 7 days a week, and you will always be very welcome, and if you arrive on a day when Chrissie or Alan are off, then you will be welcomed by record store veteran Simon, who has been in the business since the early 70s, just don’t ask him about classic rock music, you will never leave.

What releases from Proper and Red Essential are you enjoying?
2016 seen some fantastic releases including the return of hip hop legends De La Soul. Their long awaited return ‘and the anonymous nobody’ has been a steady seller which thanks to its many collabrations has crossed over to an audience who would not normally be attracted to the hip hop section. Also proving that you don’t have to be in the Stones to be over 70 to still rock, Ian Hunters ‘Fingers Crossed’ has turned out to be amongst his best work to date.

Also a big highlight for 2016 was the return of the trio Dodgy. Check out their album ‘What Are We Fighting For’, especially the 6 minute title track which rounds of the album, it simply doesn’t get any better. Our final pick from the last 12 months and a big shop favourite was the latest from White Denim, ‘Stiff’ is just a great mixture of every musical genre you can imagine, hard to pigeon hole, but it’s this that makes it such a great listen.

If you would like to be Proper’s Featured Store, contact Graham Jones

The Vault

Tel: 01202 482134

Vinyl, CDs, Secondhand

Opening Times:
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Saturday, 9am – 5.30pm
Sunday, 10.30am – 4.30pm


The Vault
1 Castle Street
BH23 1DP