Leeds record store owners retire

Jumbo records retiring owners Lornette and Hunter Smith.

Jumbo records retiring owners Lornette and Hunter Smith.

The owners of an iconic independent record store in Leeds have retired from the business they set up more than 40 years ago.

Hunter and Lornette Smith have left Jumbo Records in the St John’s Centre, where it has been since 1998, but which started life 43 years ago at the back of another shop in the city in 1971.

The store has been bought by another Leeds couple, Nick Fraser and Justinia Lewis, who will combine their buisness background with their love of music. But the store and the staff will remain the same, continuing to sell the vinyl and gig tickets they are known for, as well as the CDs, T-shirts and DVDs they also stock.

The business started as a way for mobile DJ Hunter to make some money on the side, when he was persuaded to sell records in the back of a friend’s shop. Since then, the store has been in the Queen’s Arcade, the Merrion Centre since 1974, and in its current home for the past 26 years.

Assistant manager Trevor Senior has been with Jumbo nearly as long as the couple themselves, despite intending to help out for only a few months in 1974.

He said: “It was an interest in soul music and reggae that got me into the shop. Then you get a real buzz from selling what you’ve recommended to someone – I still do.”

It’s that sort of customer service, and product knowledge, that the couple believe has kept buyers coming back.

Lornette said: “The secret is being able to find something for someone, even if you don’t have it. I think that there are so few unique record shops it’s a good thing to keep this going.”

Although the pair don’t have any long-terms plans, top of Hunter’s immediate list is Glastonbury, which he is going to experience for the first time.

“I’ve done all the admin since day one, so it always meant that I had to be back in time to do the wages and sort out the bills.”

The couple are agreed it’s the people, as well as the music that they’ll miss.

Lornette said: “It’s the people that come in and you have no idea what their likes are and who that person really is. Your lives become enmeshed and on that basis you get to know each other.”

Hunter added: “I’ll miss discovering new music. I don’t think people who live in Leeds realise what a great live music city it is.”

The couple would like to thank all staff and customers of the store, in its various loactions, over the years.




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