Music Exchange to close
A pioneering record shop that supported homeless and vulnerable people to turn their lives around is to close.
The Music Exchange, in Stoney Street, has become an integral part of the Nottingham music scene since it was opened in 2009 by Framework.
Operated as a social enterprise by the charity’s EVE Trades community interest company, it gave hundreds of volunteers from challenging backgrounds the opportunity to experience work in a fun and supportive environment. It also supported local artists to raise their profile by selling their work free of commission.
The shop, one of the first of its kind in the country, has won several awards and accolades, including being named listed as one of the best independent record shops in the country by The Observer and Daily Telegraph.* However, it has struggled to cope with a difficult trading environment and will close on March 19.
Claire Eden, Head of Employment, Volunteering and Social Enterprise, explained: “The Music Exchange, like all the other social enterprises we operate, has always been about people rather than profit, but we need to bring in a certain level of income to keep the shop viable. Sadly we have reached a stage where the many benefits the shop brings to vulnerable people are outweighed by the costs of keeping it open.
“We have held off making this decision for as long as we could, but with music retailers across the country feeling the strain, we saw little hope of turning things around. Clearly this is a difficult time for staff and volunteers, but they should all know that they have been part of something far bigger than just a record shop. I am enormously proud of what the Music Exchange has achieved and heartened to know that so many people will look back on it with fondness.”
Since 2009 more than 300 different volunteers – many of them people with a direct experience of homelessness – have worked in the shop. Some just wanted a place to rediscover their confidence and self-esteem; others wanted to work their way back into employment. A total of 45 people are known to have gained employment immediately after volunteering at the shop, although the real number may be higher.
Manager Brian Mutton said: “I feel so sad to see The Music Exchange close but feel so proud of everything we achieved.
I'm going to be left with a lot of happy memories and I would like to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work, passion and dedication.”
The Music Exchange, which is now running a closing down sale, plans to go out with a bang by holding farewell concert towards the end of March. For more details see www.themusicexchange.org.uk