Opening a record store in the middle of an extremely uncertain time for the high street might have seemed like a strange thing to do on the face of it. But Moorgate was started and is still run by people who love music.
Moorgate Acoustics was founded in by Keith Hobson in 1981 with the aim of helping discriminating customers get better sound at home. Keith was an engineer by trade who’s passion for music led to a keen interest in Hi-fi as the best means to appreciate it. He was a customer of the local hi-fi shops long before redundancy gave him the chance to open his own. He used his experiences good and bad to shape the things that Moorgate would do and the way in which it would look after its customers.
I’m his son and I joined the business part time in 1982 and became a full-time member of staff late in that same year. I started off as tea boy and general dogsbody and learned what I could about the equipment that we sold back then from our store at the foot of Ship Hill in Rotherham. To start with I wasn’t particularly interested in the brands and saw them simply as a device to get closer to the music. Music was my passion and still is. I guess I inherited it from my Dad and my Mom and Julie, my sister. Each brought a different type of music and different bands to my attention and I grew to love them all.
Throughout our companies history we’ve been lucky to employ some great staff. All of them got through the interview process on one thing; their love of music. We wanted people who were passionate about music because that is the bond between us and our customers. We can teach anyone about the equipment we stock but you can’t teach someone to love music. They either do or they don’t. If you ask anyone they will tell you they love music. But we wanted people who were defined by it and were passionate enough about it to want to do something that involves music. And what we do is ALL about music.
When a customer comes into our store for the first time; we know they are often faced with a lot of equipment which is possibly new to them and maybe brands that they’ve never even heard of. Sometimes they have no idea how to describe of vocalise what they want and other times they’ve done lots of research in the hi-fi press or online. In either case they don’t know us. It is our job to listen to them and to best advice on what they should consider. At the earliest possible opportunity we endeavour to get some music playing for them. Something they know and love. The language between us is much more understandable once they’ve heard good sound. How good that sound is to be, very much depends on them.
We were not business people. My father wasn’t a business person, he was an engineer. But he felt he wanted to do something he felt passionate about and to share that passion. Passion will always carry you through. We have had to become business people simply to survive. South Yorkshire has been through some bad times. But bad times makes you strong in many respects, especially if you stick to your principles.
So when I say that music underscores everything we do; you can see why we wanted to open Wax in our basement. It was the logical next step in so many respects.
We also feel that for independent business to survive they have to remain vital and provide a service or an environment that people want and also feel comfortable with. Wax gives our customers more reason to come visit and even to come visit more often.
The story of Wax at Moorgate started when our basement became too damp for us to use for the storage of the hi-fi equipment we sell. We moved the stock out and looked at resolving the damp issue. This was eventually achieved by tanking about a third of the area. Once this was done the space was dried out, decorated, air circulation and air conditioning added and the electrics and the lighting were put in. We opened our doors in late April this year.
Of course the person we chose to run Wax is extremely passionate about music!
Initially Wax’s customers were Moorgate customers. Their loyalty is heartwarming and always appreciated. But we’re delighted to find that now we’ve been open a while that we’re attracting new customers. What is even more exciting is that some of those customers take their new vinyl and bring it upstairs to take a look at the hi-fi equipment we sell.
Thanks for reading. And to sign off I’d like to mention some of the great people who have worked for us past and present.
Robert (Jan) Iwan
Keith & Beryl Hobson