I first encountered Fopp in Aberdeen, and initially thought that it was some local record shop rather than a national chain. Subsequently, trips to some of Fopp's many branches became a routine part of any trip to the Britain. Fopp had a handy business model, at least as far as the punter was concerned - they sold a lot of mid-price stuff for a fiver in Earth money. My well-informed friends tell me that this was based on some cannibalistic business practices, involving buying up the stock of bankrupt retailers in firesale auctions, but I was always too busy picking up records I had never got round to buying before to care. It helped that Fopp branches were always bright and cheery places well suited to record browsing. Famously, the one in Edinburgh even had a bar (even if it was more like what in Budapest they call a Drinks Bar).
And on Friday the 29th June, Fopp closed down all its stores without paying its employees their last month's wages. Cockfarmers. The BBC suggests that internet retailing and music downloading is to blame, though my well-informed friends suggest that instead M. Le Fopp accidentally found himself buying a retailers debts as well as its stock. Uh oh.
There may nevertheless be something to this idea that online retailing and downloading is killing record stores. Apparently London's Berwick Street is in serious decline these days, with there being far fewer shops there then there used to be. If this trend continues, there will soon be no reason to visit London. It is interesting and perhaps heroic that Rough Trade are planning to open a new monster shop in the Brick Lane area, with a view to stopping the Internet, but I fear that they are being a latter day Canute and are engaging in a futile action that will bring down their two existing shops with it.
This is life.