With many Deal bands belonging to their label and a dedicated festival taking place each year, Smugglers Records are a powerhouse of the Deal pub folk scene. We went along to their shop in King Street for Record Store Day.
With much of the action on Record Store Day taking place in the morning, Smugglers gave away free goodies to the first people through the door. We arrived at 3 o’clock in time for the live music, the store was packed with people spilling onto the pavements. We shuffled around the bare wood floors making room for the first act, Papalonoan Babooshkies, a three piece made up of saxophone, accordion and percussion. Their instrumental rhythmic sounds entrancing as they encouraged everyone to browse while they listened.
The walls of the shop are plastered with gig posters, locally brewed beers line a shelf and records are stacked in wooden units. The culmination is a space that has no pretention and has its community at heart. Something you’d hope from your local record shop is that they’d be able to get records in for you. We ordered in a record by local singer songwriter Will Varley, and they had it ready for us within a few days.
The recent editions of food and drink making the shop somewhere you’d like to hang out in on a Saturday morning. They are offering a selection of toasties, along with smoothies and hot drinks.
The magic brought about by live music filled the shop and The Douglas Sisters harmonies brought out a feeling of mellow contentment as people drank beer in plastic cups and munched on toasties. People stood in the doorway and outside in between sets chatting together in the late afternoon sun.
We spotted Reece wandering in the crowd and riffling through records, a 13 year old with a shaved head dressed in DMs, red braces and a Black Flag t shirt. At 4am his Mum who took him to Transmission Records in Cliftonville- the people there knew him and gave him free stuff. Reece was unphased by us and a few others, who wanted to take pictures of him. He said he’s used to people chasing after him for a picture on Instagram. This year was his first record store day and he’d already cracked it with military precision, scoring a Night Terrors album and a soundtrack to The New York Ripper.
As the afternoon went on, more people filled the space. Children on laps, beer flowing and records flying off the shelves. There was an atmosphere of community, with everyone knowing each other somehow, an ethos at the heart of Smugglers and ultimately the town of Deal. With Record Store Day in its tenth year now, and with vinyl sales continuing to grow, the day has become ever more popular. Record stores are once again a significant presence in many high streets. With Smugglers offering so much to music lovers of the town it's hard to believe Deal survived without them.