Jon Tolley holding Best Independent Retailer award

Kingston record shop named Best Independent Retailer two years running

A Kingston record shop was named Best Independent Retailer for the second year in a row by a major music industry group this week.

Banquet Records, of Eden Street, was up against six other independent music shops at this year’s MusicWeek awards, which was held in Battersea Park on Tuesday.

Jon Tolley of Banquet Records told South West Londoner he was happy they were being recognised for their hard work.

He said: “Everyone at Banquet has really put in the hours over the last year and a half and we’re seeing the fruits of their labour.”

He added that over the course of the pandemic, people started to rally behind local, independent shops.

“They couldn’t go out, all they could do was listen to records.

“And there were record labels and artists who were sending stuff our way, particularly to try and support independent shops in that period.”

Two south west London record shops were up for the award this year, with Eel Pie Records in Twickenham also making it to the finals. 

BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo hosted the awards, which were attended by music industry titans EMI, Ministry of Sound and Warner Music.

Major British artists and songwriters, including Frank Turner and Carla Marie Williams, also made an appearance.

Having played host for major acts in recent years, including The Who, Tolley said that the Best Independent Retailer award gives the independent Kingston business credibility: “Wolf Alice, Slowthai, and Gary Barlow are playing in the next coming weeks. 

“They don’t come unless they’re coming to a shop and a business which can be trusted.”

Banquet Records was formed in 2004 after it took over Beggars Banquet, a small chain of independent record shops in west London which was founded in 1977.

The independent record shop has been shifting more of its business online, as part of its pandemic business plan.

Part of this strategy has been an increased social media presence, especially on TikTok, the video sharing app that saw a meteoric rise during the pandemic. 

One video posted by Banquet Records received nearly 140,000 views. 

VIRAL SENSATION: This TikTok has been seen nearly 140,000 times

Tolley, who is also a councillor for Kingston Council, added that Banquet Records are currently putting on 30 gigs every month.

“[During lockdown] we were still booking these and putting them on sale, just not really knowing when the events would actually be realised. So now we’ve got a backlog to catch up on. 

“It’s pretty full on, it’s non stop. 

“Even if it is tiring, you get a buzz by doing it which keeps you going.”

Having recently invested in a new PA system for a six figure sum, Tolley told South West Londoner he hopes to be able to transform PRYZM, Banquet’s usual haunt, into a venue that surprises people.

Image Credit: Jon Tolley

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