The origins of the current day Bridport Music shop go back to the Easter holidays in 1974, when Andy Bell opened Bridport Record Centre at 96 South Street in what was previously a disused store room adjoining his father’s shop.

HE Bell was an ‘open all hours’ confectioner/bakers shop run by the elderly ‘Pops’ Bell who was nearing retirement age. Andy left the navy to take over the family business, along with his new wife Tory.

Disappointed that the local record department of Boots (Boots Audio) didn’t stock anything by his favourite band, Family, he decided that the town needed a ‘proper’ record shop run by music fans, i.e. himself. The storeroom was kitted out with homemade record racks, shelving for cassettes and a smattering of eight-track cartridges. Helping Andy get the shop ready was Piers Garner, Tory’s younger brother, who came down from Kent to visit the couple during the school holidays. During the summer holidays he came back to help run the shop.

The shop prospered but Andy felt it would do better if it was in the town centre and so when the leasehold for 33a South Street became available he was very interested. But first he asked his brother-in-law Piers if he fancied managing it as he wouldn’t be able to run both HE Bell and Bridport Record Centre.

Piers agreed, on the understanding that it was only for a year as he had other plans. In November 1979, Bridport Record Centre opened its door at 33a South Street with a 22-year-old Piers at the helm.

In Autumn 1980, Piers married Steph and the two of them ran the shop together. So it was until June 1985, when along came children Hannah, Jacqueline and Louis which kept Steph out of the frontline business of the shop - although she was very much involved in keeping everything together behind the scenes, such as dealing with the accounts and paying suppliers.

Piers was ably assisted by a series of employees; Phil, Rob, Donna, Fiona and, most recently, Matt. Add to this a plethora of Saturday staff – David, Anna, Mel, Jenny, Jo, Dan, Greg, Alice, Sam, Fenne to name a few. When the youngest of the children, Louis, began secondary school, Steph returned to work in the shop and there she remained until this day.

The business has weathered many changes within the industry, including the rise of the CD, the fall of vinyl, the end of the cassette, the end of Top 40 singles, the arrival of MP3s and downloads. The business moved into mail order and then internet trading when Amazon was just a threat to the book industry. When sales of CDs began to drop, the shop needed a new direction to go in, so Piers and Steph looked around to see what was missing from the town. Many years before they had been selling guitar strings in response to requests from customers but had stopped when Lee Trevett Music had set themselves up in business with a fully-fledged music shop on East Street.

After the closure of this shop, the town had gone for several years without a musical instrument shop - and they decided it was time to try again.

With some trepidation, they stocked a few guitar strings and also some guitars. It went well, but they started to get asked for bits and pieces for other instruments. After a few years selling musical instrument, that side of the business began to match the CD side. About 10 years ago, the shop was invited to take part in what was originally an American initiative called ‘Record Store Day’ which was intended to celebrate the resurgence of vinyl albums and also the culture of the independent record shop which after years of declining numbers was beginning to experience something of a comeback.

The second Record Store Day was extended to the UK and Europe. Not really knowing what to expect, and partly thinking it would be a waste of time, Piers and Steph reluctantly said they take part. It proved more successful than they were expecting and so the following year they took part again.

Each year was better than the one before, as more and more exclusive releases were made available on the day until we reach the present day - when it is the single biggest trading day of the year and preparations start months before.

The couple say that running the shop, though immensely satisfying and enjoyable, is extremely hard work and after 40 years they have decided that it’s time to take things a little easier (although not quite ready to retire yet).

Piers said: "We would like to thank all our loyal customers for the support and friendship throughout the past 40 years and for all the lovely messages since they announced they were closing the business."