A chain of record stores operating in various parts of England, currently with 34 stores. Not not a part of the Chain With No Name.

Prices are generally comparable to the major retailers like HMV, Tower et al, though they frequently beat the competition by a pound or two.

Their range and stock seems to be consistently better than the others too, with a tendency away from the radio-friendly unit shifters. This can probably be attributed to the fact that the company and the stores are run by enthusiasts.

The most notable thing about Andy's Records stores is their idiosyncratic filing system. Most record stores file by genre (rock/pop, dance, jazz, classical, etc) and alphabetically by artist within the genre. Andy's filing system is a bit more arcane:

Within the genre, things are generally ordered alphabetically by artist name as written, ie. by the first name of a solo artist. So, for example, Frank Zappa ends up filed under 'F' alongside Frank Black and the Catholics. This can be unnerving, particularly for those of a pedantic bent. The impulse to start pulling the merchandise from the shelves and putting it in it's proper order can be hard to resist. But with an open mind, it's easy to see how it could prove useful. A friend of mine once believed that Mazzy Star was the name of the artist rather than that of the band, so she'd looked for the material under 'S' and found none. Andy's filing system provides isolation from such 'mistakes'.

The other quirk of their filing system is that solo artists and associated bands are frequently filed next to each other. While it's not uncommon for the major stores to place 'see also' refenerces to other areas of the catalogue, Andy's seem quite happy to move solo artists or bands together, with no further reference from the correct location. Recent examples:

This system is evidently set up to encourage impulse buying: when looking for the more popular stuf, the shopper is inadvertently exposed to the less popular stuff. Unfortunately, their pricing structure isn't really set up to encourage splurging, and the more immediate effect of their system is to infuriate and perplex when you're looking for something specific.

Having said that, ultimately this can be a positive effect, and makes record shopping fun. Hunting for the recording you want is no longer a simple case of looking in the right spot... you can apply a little bit of knowledge to find what you're looking for. Not only do you get the music, but also some self-satisfaction.

All in all, Andy's is no Fopp, not ever a close second (that would be Missing... or the sadly defunct John Smith's), but it's probably one of the better ones in England, and certainly the best I've found so far in Cambridge.

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