THERE is a need for smaller, niche shops according to a long-standing Wrexham shop owner, following the nationwide news of HMV’s return to administration.

The Wrexham branch of HMV located on Island Green, opened in 2004 but closed in 2013, when the firm went into administration for the first time.

But since the closure, independent record shops have continued to thrive, including Alun Hughes Film, Music and Nostalgia on Bank Street in the town centre.

Mr Hughes said: “Christmas trade for the indie sector disappeared years ago. I probably did about 10 per-cent of what my King Street Business did in 2001/02. Bad sign? Not really.

“The industry has changed beyond recognition and whereas people used to come out of their music hibernation at Christmas to buy a swathe of TV advertised crap, that doesn’t happen on the same scale anymore.

“Yes there was Bocelli and Boe, Rod and others, but these were the exception not the rule. Any successful shop these days has followed the advice of, say, the Manchester Metropolitan University and has re-booted their shop.

“We’ve tried to work out what the strengths of online selling are and, conversely, what are their weaknesses. We play to their weaknesses. We offer personal service, advice, help, expertise and local. We pitch to collectors and we have also moved away from the youth market towards the more mature shopper. That said, we do look at the younger collector and the younger muso.

“We have been up year on year and have added such a variety to the music offer, that people describe this shop as an Aladdin’s Cave. HMV are stuck in the past and their offer is the most vulnerable offer to the internet that I have seen. Where are the niches? Where is the unusual, the expertise?

“On music streaming, you can’t collect a streamed item. We sell music for the collector, not the functionalist.”

Mr Hughes has also criticised archaic infrastructure for the closure of big retailers, suggesting that the days of the big stores are waning.

He added: “The fact that a town like Nantwich, which retained its small sized units, is now close to 100 per-cent capacity of let says it all.

“Look at Henblas Street. Small units let whereas big units are empty. The future will be built on bottom-up. Wrexham Council need not to miss the bus and there is a need for the Welsh Assembly to reinvigorate towns by encouraging a reconfiguration. Sad thing is that HMV in Chester had already moved from their bunker shop to a smaller unit but they were too slow turning around the Titanic.”

Mr Hughes has also suggested the need for niche shops in towns like Wrexham, to cater to the specific needs of visitors to the town.

“People will gravitate towards local and skill-orientated businesses and that should always have been what Ty Pawb was about. My shop taps into what flies in Wrexham and ignores what doesn’t. We also aggregate products to the niche that we identify. Records and books sell to the same people as do books and DVDs and so on. Incidentally, we have stripped out all post-1990 films from this shop, which are heavily available on Netflix and the like, and we have filled the rows with interesting older films, many of them black and whites.”