‘You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan / And the next five years trying to be with your friends again.’
So here it is. It was one of those things that had been on the cards for a while now, but I guess I just didn’t want to be around to see it. Tomorrow evening, Thursday 31st January 2013, One Up on Belmont St. will close its doors for the final time. From a small stall in the late 70’s through various shop venues in the city centre, One Up has served the public of Aberdeen with the best in new music. But, unfortunately recent years have taken their toll and the shop announced its foreclosure mere hours after HMV went into administration.
When arriving in Aberdeen just over three years ago One Up was one of the first places I discovered that made me feel excited to be here. Compared to the small town I came from which had a small HMV that didn’t offer much variety from the standard fare, One Up felt like a place where you could actually discover music, both new and old, local and foreign. Fred and the gang were always friendly and knowledgeable, while I was often surprised by the goodies nestling in the shelves. It became a place to meet friends or duck into on payday. Inevitably when homesickness would set in, going in and browsing through the shelves always helped. Music has always been a coping mechanism for me so having a place to find it was a real comfort. Suffice to say, One Up made me feel more at home in Aberdeen.
When I went along recently, the shop felt a lot smaller with all the downstairs material shifted upstairs. The racks were barer, but the atmosphere was still positive as people came to support a store whose commitment to decent music has garnered them an appreciative customer base over the years. I’m not ashamed to say that I had a bit of a lump in my throat as I left the shop for what is probably the last time. It seems strange to have formed an emotional attachment to a shop and I guess I’m just a sentimentalist at heart, but over the years the shop has come to mean a lot to me.
So unfortunately, music retail in Aberdeen is not off to a good start 2013. With the imminent loss of One Up and HMV later, the only places left to buy new releases in Aberdeen will be supermarkets. Cavern Record Store on Belmont St. is still open, but as a 2nd hand vinyl store I’m not sure how much longer its admittedly niche appeal and loyal customers can keep it afloat. On a side note, I was also disheartened last year to hear of the closure announcement for Avalanche Records in Grassmarket, Edinburgh, another favourite haunt of mine when I’m in town. It’s a sad state of affairs. Also, the announcement that Aberdeen City Council are considering using the premises as their base for the Aberdeen City of Culture Office seems nothing short of opportunistic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that the Council recognise the cultural significance One Up has had in Aberdeen and that it should be used for something positive and constructive, rather than another shop taking its place. However, the timing of the announcement just seems a bit insensitive and the phrase ‘dancing on your grave’ comes to mind. Not to mention the irony that the business rates set by the council have been a contributing factor for the foreclosure of many high street vendors, One Up included. You really can’t make this stuff up
But putting all of that negativity aside, I will always have fond memories of One Up. So go along while you still can and show your support for the best record shop I’ve ever been to. And thank you One Up, from the bottom of my heart, for all the pleasure you’ve given me these last few years and the people of Aberdeen since 1979. See you on the flip side.