Table of Contents
Old South’s Village Idiot is a “survival story,” building back its business after the COVID pandemic.
Now, the record and music store is looking to survive a little longer, owner Robert Charles-Dunne said. After 23 years, he is retiring but hopes to sell the business to an entrepreneur who wants to keep alive the funky Wortley Village shop and the vinyl it sells.
“It has been a survival story and I didn’t work this long and hard for it to evaporate. I need to find the next generation. I hope it stays open for another 23 years,” Charles-Dunne said. “We shut down for seven months through the nightmare of COVID and we’re bouncing back now. This is very much a viable store.”
The Village Idiot sells vinyl records, CDs, musical instruments and stereo gear.
Charles-Dunne opened the store 23 years ago at the urging of his wife after he moved here to be with her. She died two years after the store opened.
“I tried to maintain her legacy, do her memory proud and now it’s time to pass on that legacy. There is 23 years of traffic for whoever wants it. It would be foolish to shut it down,” he said.
Coun. Skylar Franke, whose ward includes Old South, hopes the store remains open because it is exactly the kind of retail outfit that she believes makes the village special.
“Wortley Village is a better place with delightful small businesses and restaurants people can walk to, so any loss is concerning,” she said. “I hope someone takes it over.”
In fact, the Old South Business Association is organizing to reopen after shutting down due to COVID and the possible loss of an established retailer underscores the need for the business association, Franke said.
Charles-Dunne is selling just as vinyl records are seeing a resurgence as more youth are discovering the turntable.
Data from the Recording Industry Association of America reports vinyl record sales hit US$1.2 billion in 2022, a 20 per cent increase over the previous year. Vinyl also topped CD sales for the first time since 1988.
“I remember when we were told to get rid of vinyl and get CDs. Now, they are going back to records,” said Charles-Dunne, who also is well known in London music circles as a member of The Mongrels rock band.
“It has been an interesting experience. I’ve been in the music business my whole life.”
As for the Old South Business Association’s return, the group will meet next week as it tries to get back on its feet.
“It was around for a lot of years and fizzled out. It kind of disbanded. I wondered if there is any interest in bringing it back,” said Ian Leishman, a realtor who is one of the organizers.
The Village Idiot it is the type of retailer the business association would support, he said. “It’s a great business. It adds to the feel of Wortley Village. It would be too bad if it wasn’t there anymore.”