Berlin has a new record store called The Ghost.
The Ghost isn't a typical record shop. It's housed in a 1970s Mercedes camper van equipped with listening stations and record crates, which allows it to set up at various locations around Berlin. Founded by Berlin-based Brits Josh Tweek and James Creed, both longtime DJs, it features a heavily-curated collection of house, techno and more, mostly sourced from retired DJs across Europe.
Those looking to visit The Ghost have a few options. It's already found a semi-regular spot outside Club der Visionaere, and has touched down at several one-off events (including last weekend's Ambient am Block B). Private appointments—which you can book with the store directly—are a large part of The Ghost's weekly schedule. For those, and to stay on top of the van's movements, head to The Ghost's Facebook page.
We caught up with The Ghost for a chat about business so far.
Tell us about your backgrounds.
Josh: We've known each other for ages from back home in England, way before either of us were into electronic music. Having both moved out here at different points over the last seven years, we now find ourselves running the shop together.
I co-founded and was a resident for Louche in Leeds and London since 2007. I moved here in late 2012, just as UK promoting starting to lose its shine. I kept it going remotely for a while, booking parties in Berlin and gigging around town a bit. James and I came up with the idea for The Ghost last summer, and it's been a full-time thing for both of us since then.
James: I've been in Berlin the longest, and involved in the record game the whole time. I worked for a couple of labels for a few years before starting my own with a good friend, who has since moved to Spain. Due to changing tastes over the years and living in different countries we decided to wind it down and focus on new projects.
How did you source records for the shop?
James: It's mostly the result of diggin' deep and making contacts over the years: forming a Europe-wide network within the used vinyl market and opening up loads of doors. This led to the nine collections we started The Ghost with. Josh and I have pretty similar tastes in music, so it was quite easy to decide which batches to buy, how much we thought they were worth, and so on.
Obviously not all your stock will fit into the van. How will you approach rotating the records you put out for sale?
Josh: From experience it can be quite frustrating frequenting a record shop and seeing the same tunes every visit. The limitations imposed by the size of our shop work nicely to combat this. We have space for about 1,200 tunes in The Ghost at one time, and we have a lock-up that holds far more. We empty the van every night and load up every morning, so it's pretty easy to switch the crates up. The method is quite random, but that's sort of the point.
What were the main difficulties you faced setting up the store?
James: There were loads to be honest. The nature of doing a mobile shop obviously meant there were things we had to consider that wouldn't have been an issue otherwise. Picking the right van was the first step: mechanical condition, weight restrictions when you have a bus full of tunes, plus comfort for customers who are inside browsing. It also needed to look dead cool, inside and out. Once we found the perfect model, the next step was turning a 40-year old camper into a record shop. We won't bore you with the details, but it involved constant problem-solving.
The stock has been heavily curated, so what kind of music can we expect to find?
Josh: We estimate we bought 20,000 records, keeping about 6,000 for the shop. Within that "cream of the crop" there are four rough genre sections: house, techno, electro and "other." We didn't go too deep into individual sub-genres, which means we can give the punters a loosely guided digging experience. We have all sorts, though, from hip-hop to drum & bass and beyond. We stock some new stuff too. If we hear fresh things we like, we'll always scoop 'em up for the shop.
You've been operating for a few months now. Is there anything you wish you'd been told before opening?
James: To be honest, we had almost a year to get ready for the opening. We covered all our bases. So far so good!
We've seen many record shops have to close in recent times. What do you think a shop selling dance music vinyl needs to be successful these days?
Josh: Being in a city like Berlin with its rich dance music heritage certainly helps. But the most important thing has got to be a sick selection of tunes. If you have good stuff, people will always find you.Tweek and Creed will also be DJing as The Ghost. They've mixed the latest LowMoneyMusicLove podcast, which you can stream. Those in London on October 28th will be able to catch The Ghost in action at The Pickle Factory.