Desperately wondering where to do your Christmas shopping? Look no further than the Chester based vintage store Becnicks Wonder Emporium. Soundsphere have a chat with Nicky and Carrie from the store about fashion, and their new music event, The Bandstand.
How did Becnicks start?
Nicky] “I had the idea about six years ago, when I was working full time in marketing, and I wanted to open a music/vintage shop that also had events. My friend Rebecca had a strong retail background and we just thought, ‘Shall we give it a go?’ Most of our traders have been here from day dot. We have honed our brands, it was a lot of trial and error, to see if there was a market for it. Everyone comes from a very varied market, like retail and design, marketing, so it’s quite a big mix!”
What fashion and styles inspire you?
Carrie] “I kind of started doing just vintage clothing, and started developing my brand [Junkbox] from travelling and the outdoors and anything adventure. And I just thought is there any way I can run my brand from what I love, I love travelling and going to explore new places, so that’s how it’s developed. And I thought if I go on holiday I can justify it because it can kind of be a work thing!”
Nicky] “Carrie has taught herself to do all unique designs and contour cutting and hot pressing so all of the t shirts and bags are all hand created in her department. We have other departments, one pure vintage clothing which is run by the guy who used to own Cafe Society which was established in 1984. He’s got true vintage which you can’t get hold of anymore which is really rare. We do cater for a lot of different people, and have a very diverse mixture of styles for everyone.”
How did The Bandstand start?
Carrie] “I’m part of Campfire Social, and I do have to give a little bit of credit to Tom from the band for it as well, because it kind of evolved from us kind of looking at how to get music out there. We’ve got a lot of friends in Chester, North Wales and Liverpool who are amazing musicians, and we go to and play a lot of gigs and there’s a really good eclectic mix of amazing music round here. I’m not a fan of certain radio stations because they just play things that sound the same and it felt like there should be some way of getting it out there. There are great things like Flipside Radio that are really cool, but it doesn’t give you a platform to buy it. It’s making it a little more accessible for people because there is some great music around.”
Nicky: “And it means that monthly we have gigs where musicians can showcase their music and perform in here live and if people like it they can buy it. Alternatively if they can’t make the gig they can watch it online.”
Carrie: “It’s an accessible platform for new music, which I find a lot better than a lot of music that your find on commercial radio. Most of my iPod is either really obscure bands, really old music or people who are my friends round here who are just amazing musicians.”
What do you think of the music scene in Chester?
Carrie] “In Chester there’s loads of little pockets of really awesome art, creativity, designers, retailers, musicians, bars and restaurants everything! But they’re all little pockets, but you really need something to bring them together, and I do feel that this is happening, and even I was speaking to Tom [Campfire Social] about how Alexander’s and Telford’s are arranging artists and it’s nice that people are starting to build a community here.”
Nicky: “It’s really nice to have a forum here where we can push different artists and talent that we have here in the city.”
Who are some of your favourite artists in the city?
Carrie] “Definitely got to say Alx Green, he is so good, musically and lyrically he is fantastic. Peaness are super fun and are so lovely. The rest of our band are alright, I don’t mind them! We’ve got about 20 different artists in The Bandstand currently and a few more coming out. It’s hopefully going to grow and become something a lot bigger and better. We’ve also taken it to Rex in Liverpool because I’ve got my brand in there and what I’m hoping to do in there is to branch in the gap between here and Liverpool. I’m hoping to bring some of their bands here, and our bands over there and do a rotation so we’re always getting a different audience for it, which will be good.”
Have there been any challenges setting up The Bandstand?
Carrie] “Do you know what not particularly! And it’s nice to say that! I think because of the nature of as it involves so many people, even the people that don’t play music love it and the scene that we’ve got, it’s something that everyone feels a part of. I kind of want to keep it like that because that’s made it relatively easy, there’s no exclusivity and no rules or regulations. There’s no commission for the bands, we do the gigs free entry, it’s about keeping it accessible and open for everyone and everyone’s been really supportive. The only sort of challenge, is putting the gigs on, which even so has been quite easy because we’ve got Sam from Chemistry Lane who’s kindly let us use his PA and he comes and helps us set up. Tom from our band is really good with sound-tech and it’s been made easier because everyone has got involved, so there’s not been as many obstacles because it’s for everyone to enjoy and be a part of, and I think for it to carry on in that way would be amazing.”
What are your plans for 2017?
Carrie: “Try and grow a little bit more of a following, and get it out there a little bit more so people know and simply recognise what it’s about. A lot of people are still asking ‘What is it?’ and it’s about making it a bit more self-explanatory. So that’s definitely it for the new year. And hopefully doing more and more events, I think as well different types of events. We’re quite open to growing it, and taking over the world!”