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Meet the Kirkby guitar shop which has customers worldwide including a Eurovision star!

1 year ago

Meet the Kirkby guitar shop which has customers worldwide including a Eurovision star!

An independent guitar shop in Kirkby has customers from all over the world, including one of the stars of the Eurovision grand final.

But its owner says despite the international recognition, it’s still unknown to most guitar lovers closer to home.

Reg Clappison opened Austin Guitars seven years ago after a decade selling through guitar shows around the country.

Since then the shop has attracted all kinds of buyers, from beginners to well-known artists, and Reg regularly ships sought-after models to America.

Only last weekend he got an order for UK-made boutique pedals from the Slovenian Eurovision entry, Joker Out, who asked to have them delivered to him here ahead of the Arena performance.

Reg explains: “He was in Liverpool for the contest and these particular pedals we have are not that common, so I think maybe he’d been looking for them. He emailed to ask if we still had the ones he wanted in stock and to say he was staying in Liverpool, so I dropped them off at his hotel and he said he would send me a picture of himself with them. 

An independent guitar shop in Kirkby has customers from all over the world, including one of the stars of the Eurovision grand final.

“We had the Scottish band Big Country in a couple of weeks ago, and Paul Hemmings from the Lightning Seeds and The La’s comes in, then we also have people who are looking to buy their first guitar so it’s a nice mix.

“The vast majority of people are going to play in their bedroom on their own, but a small percentage are out gigging. 

“We’ve grown and built up a tremendous customer base and got some fantastic reviews, even though I’d say 75-80% of guitar interested people in Kirkby who probably drive past every day don’t know we exist!”

Reg, 71, took early retirement from his job as an arboriculturist and decided to devote more time to his lifelong passion.

“I was gigging myself until about eight years ago, playing guitar in different bands, and doing guitar shows as well on a part-time basis,” he says. “When I retired I still needed to do something and the opportunity to have a shop two minutes from where I live came up so I took it.

“We open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and also by appointment, so I have plenty of free time but I also get to do the thing I love so it’s a dream come true that I never even had because I’m obsessed with these things.”

An independent guitar shop in Kirkby has customers from all over the world, including one of the stars of the Eurovision grand final.

As more and more small independent guitar shops close down due to a shift online, Reg has found Austin Guitars has become a go-to for enthusiasts looking for something special.

“A lot of our business is through our website and various other platforms, but buying a guitar is really a very tactile thing, you need to get it in your hand to see what it’s like and lots of people prefer to do that. 

“That’s why we have a good stock in the shop, a whole range from brand new beginners guitars to top end Les Pauls and Fenders and everything in between.”

International customers often like the Liverpool connection too, he adds.

“A lad in the States bought a Fender, which is an America-made guitar, from us a couple of years ago. He made an offer and told me, ‘this will be getting played in all the blues bars around New Orleans’ so I said, ‘that’s great but don’t forget it’s coming from the home of The Beatles!’ He said, ‘fair enough’ and bought it then sent me a photo of him playing our guitar out there.”

Reg says the biggest satisfaction of running Austin Guitars comes from the customers’ reactions.

“Guitars are just incredible emotive things. When someone comes in, has a look around, picks a guitar that they want and walks out with a big smile on their face, I know what that feels like, that huge buzz, and that’s the most enjoyable part of the job.”

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