Lo-Cost Records. Photo by Ben Howe
When Murray Shaw opened his record shop in Petone in 1991, the owner of a nearby music store was less than pleased. The individual came into Murray’s shop and told him “You want a bit of competition, do you? I'll give you competition, since you won't last a month”. In response, Murray began setting his prices lower and lower. “I just remember trying to get people to come in here” he says. “And it really pissed him off cause I was selling new CDs $10 cheaper than him”. Lo-Cost Records not only survived the month, but the next 32 years, and are still offering the lowest prices for vinyl in the Wellington region.
However, the journey was not without its hiccups. In Lo-Cost’s early days, Murray’s price setting was perhaps too competitive. “We started to realise that people were buying vinyl I had here for 20 dollars and selling them for 60 70 dollars on the internet” he says. “It was years and years of experience to know what was valuable and what wasn’t” he says. Also, he initially stocked music based on personal taste, only to realise it wasn’t selling. He began taking note of records that his customers enquired about, a practice he has continued ever since. “I get asked about everything from bagpipe music to bloody brass band music” he says, flicking through the notepad on the front counter. “The sky's the limit”.
Photo by Ben Howe.
At some point, Murray decided to partner with Chas Mannell of the online Moonhop Records, who began to catalogue sell the stores modest collection of 20,000 records via Discogs and his website, moonhop.com. The process of cataloguing took around 6 months. The partnership, and online sales, has helped to attract customers from across New Zealand.
The shop also started attracting the attention of overseas buyers, in part thanks to an article written by Chas and published in British magazine Record Collector in 2008. Shortly after the article went to print, Murray answered the phone to a man with a strong Texan drawl. “And I made a real dick of myself, cause I thought it was someone having me on” he says. “He said: I was reading about your shop. Can you tell me a bit about it? And he talked to me for half an hour. Toll call from America, gotta be worth quite a bit of money”.
Photo by Ben Howe.
Over time, Lo-Cost Records has earned what some people call a ‘cult status’, and their consistently low prices mean they have central Wellington based customers who regularly make the trip out to Petone. “Cause they know that they're saving $8 or $10 on new records” says Murray. The slogan on Chas’s website sums up Lo-Cost well: “The small store with a BIG reputation!”.
You can find Lo-Cost Records at 147 Jackson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt.