Our friends at the VinylPress.com recently featured EIL [sister company of 991.com] as part of their blog…..
I recently got the chance to talk with Robert Croydon, one of the founders of EIL-Esprit, a well known UK-based purveyor of rare records, memorabilia and older vinyl pressings that, while not necessarily “rare,” are often hard to come by in pristine condition. I thought readers might appreciate the insights of a long-established dealer:
Q: You’ve been in business since 1987- that seems to coincide with the death of vinyl as a mainstream audio medium. Can you tell us a little about how the business started? And what was the core inventory at the outset?
I don’t think vinyl started to really die for the collector until the 1990s, and we really started to see the resurgence in the mid 2000s which is still going strong. I believe that MP3 replaced the CD but made vinyl more desirable as it was further removed. CDs and MP3 can be used the same way- vinyl and MP3 are very different.
Collecting rare 12″in the late 80’s was a hobby that quickly became an obsession. The catalyst for the business was actually the 16 minute 12” mix of Frankie Goes to Hollywood Relax. We didn’t know at first that there were 3 different versions with the same catalogue number, sleeve and label with only the matrix number defining which (re)-mix it was. We purchased one from a dealer for £20, and then after finding another one for £5 realized there was a profit to be made in selling it
So we set up in business in 1986, from our respective bedrooms. Within 5 years we were the biggest and best in the world at what we do and have remained there ever since.
We went without holidays for six years and ploughed all the money we made from our jobs – me from working on the London Stock Exchange and Julian Thomas (my co-director and someone I consider to be among the best rare record buyers in the world!) as a commercial estate agent – into the company.
We spent years trudging around record fairs and second-hand shops all over the globe building up our stock.
We took on staff gradually. We currently employ more than 25 people in two huge warehouses in Meopham, Kent, England and we have an agent in Japan, hunting down rarities and selling to a growing clientele of private collectors.
We now have over 250,000 records, CDs and pieces of music memorabilia in stock and we celebrate our 30th anniversary next year!
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