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Piers and Mel Bayl-Smith, familiar faces to Willoughby Living readers, have just opened their dream record store.

“We are long-time record collectors and we know just how important and fun it is to ‘crate dig,'” explains the husband-and-wife duo behind the recently opened Rocky Road Records.

Their passion for the experience of browsing records, the thrill of discovery, and the conversations sparked by shared musical interests were the inspiration for opening the Atarmon store. “It’s a different experience to sift through records in person than it is to view images online,” says Mel.

“Record shops are reflections of culture, capturing past and present eras, fashions, ideas and movements,” they explain. They envision Rocky Road Records becoming a community hub — a place where people can “find a thing that they love, discover new sounds, or just have a chat about the music they like.”

Rocky Road Record’s co-owner, Piers Bayl-Smith. Image: supplied.

The name itself is a blend of personal connection and musical inspiration. “We loved the alliteration of the three ‘Rs’ and that they are short, punchy words,” they share, highlighting the catchy rhythm of the store’s name. They also draw inspiration from the classic confectionary: “A record collection can be a bit like rocky road, full of a whole bunch of different textures and flavours, stuck together with the universal language of music.”

Curating their diverse selection was a family affair. “To curate the initial selection, we wrote down a long list of all the records that are broadly considered ‘essential’ to own, drawing on our personal interests and knowledge across various genres or styles of music,” they explain. This extensive list, compiled with the help of their music-loving son Hollis, formed the foundation for their collection and further added to with second-hand finds and selections from distributors.

When pressed to recommend a hidden gem, Piers and Mel have trouble choosing just one. They highlight “Death Letter” by Son House, praising the raw emotionality of the blues legend and his music’s influence on popular musicians like the Grateful Dead and the White Stripes.

Having started online two years ago, Piers and Mel have already established loyal customer relationships, including many Willoughby Living readers. They’re excited to get to know more music-loving locals and highlight the positive interactions with customers like Mike and Tim, who have become vocal advocates for the store.

Looking beyond record sales, Piers and Mel envision Rocky Road Records evolving into a hub for music lovers. “We don’t know if this counts as a music-related activity, but Piers hopes to have a Friday afternoon beer and share some music with new friends,” Mel jokes.

While immediate plans include stocking record care essentials and music books, the future holds exciting possibilities. “Beyond that… who knows!” they say, hinting at dreams of establishing a record label and promoting local artists.

Anyone who follows Rocky Road Records will see Piers’ clear passion for music with his weekly trivia quizzes and updates. The couple has created not only a dedicated social media following, but an inviting space that celebrates music in all its forms, regardless of whether it was released six days, six months, or even 60 years ago.

Rocky Road Records
Rear Shop 2, 110-114 Hampden Road, Artarmon
Website: https://rockyroadrecords.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rockyroadrecords

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