Spillers Records: The Oldest Record Shop in the World (probably)

Update: click here to see some portraits of Ashli, one of the owners of Spillers Records.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of shooting probably one of the most well-known and well-respected shops in Cardiff, Spillers – the oldest record shop in the world.

I’ll give you a brief history (mainly for non-Cardiffians – hopefully I’m getting all this right, please, feel free to correct me if you know!). Established in 1894 by the Spiller family, the shop was originally in the Queens Arcade up until the 1940s when it moved to the Hayes. At some point after that the ownership of the shop passed into the hands of a collective and some time after that Nick Todd bought the shop. In 2010, after rents went too astronomical in the Hayes store, it moved to its current home in the Morgan Arcade and was bought by Nick’s daughters (including Ashli who was working today) who own it now.

Spillers is pretty much a must-see, not only for most Cardiff residents, but for lots of people around the world. Ashli told me that Japanese tourists in particular love to come in and be photographed in the shop and ask for the red plastic bags to take away as souveniers (there’s a reference to the same bags in a Manics song).

If you’re a music fan then there’s really nowhere better you can go to find your next hit. Upstairs you’ll find vinyl and listening posts (there’s also one downstairs) where you can check out some recent releases, and you’re allowed to listen to any of the albums you like before you buy. What’s more, if there’s something you can’t find, the staff at Spillers will do their best to track it down for you. Ashli said that she knows many of her customers so well that when something new comes in she often knows exactly who will want a copy – can you imagine any of this in any of the high-street music chains? I can’t.

A lot of people were upset when it was announced that Spillers was moving into the Morgan Arcade, after all, it had been there since the 1940s so many of the regulars wouldn’t know it being anywhere else. Ashli however thinks the new shop is much better than the old one. While St David’s 2 was being developed, the Hayes was disrupted by the works that was going on and now it’s a plush shopping destination, Ashli equates the site to being the equivalent of Queen Street (generic high street). “We certainly wouldn’t have been on Queen Street in the 1990s, so it makes sense that we’re no longer in the Hayes now,” she said.

Spillers has its fair share of celebrity (for want of a better word there) fans, only last week Phil Jupitus, a regular customer popped in while he’s in South Wales on tour with Spamalot. Phil recently said in an interview for local magazine, Buzz, that Spillers was one of his favourite destinations. Watch this video by the Cardiffian for a run-down on exactly why.

This is the first Spillers post, but it certainly won’t be the last. The shop regularly hosts events and in April will be taking over the empty unit just opposite from it for record store day, something which I’ll be keen to photograph as well.

For now, I hope you enjoy these pictures – as always, feedback very, very much appreciated!

What’s that I hear you cry? You want MORE pictures of Spillers? Well! You’re in luck because there’s a whole Spillers set over on Flickr… you lucky people!





16 thoughts on “Spillers Records: The Oldest Record Shop in the World (probably)

  1. Brilliant! It’s good to see the interior at last – it looks fab. I’d only seen a few bits of it from when Eira from Inner City Pickle was cwtching up to Phill Jupitus on his previous visit. Cant’ wait to go and see it for real – will definitely be in Cardiff this summer! Keep up the good work.

  2. Spillers is home away from home for me. I live in the midlands, but my family are originally from South Wales, and the majority of the family still live there. I’ve been going shopping in Spillers for around 5/6 years now, the staff are fantastic, friendly, helpful, everything you want in a record shop, last years record store day there was one of my 2010 highlights, i’ll be travelling the 200 odd miles again in April to spend this years at Spillers again. Can’t Wwit!

    • Hi Dave,

      I’m looking forward to April too – should be a good place to get some good shots.

      I’m originally from the Midlands too – whereabouts do you live?



      • I live in Tamworth in Staffordshire. Yeah you should get some great photos on the day, last years RSD there was fantastic, the staff, Nick especially, made sure I felt welcome, taking time out to chat to me throughout the day. Hopefully i’ll get to meet you on the day.

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