Bert set to close music shop after over 40 years in business

Bert McCormick pictured at his shop in Ballyclare.
Bert McCormick pictured at his shop in Ballyclare.

A Co Antrim man with a passion for music is set to retire from the industry next month.

Bert McCormick (78), whose involvement in the music business has spanned over 60 years, will be closing his record shop on Ballyclare’s Main Street on February 24.

Bert, who opened the store in July 1 1976, has earned a reputation for going the extra mile to source records for the public.

Aside from the shop, which has been catering for customers across Northern Ireland and further afield for generations, Bert, who is a talented pianist and keyboard player, performed in bands until around 2010.

Speaking about his early experiences in the industry, Bert said: “I got involved in Dixieland Jazz and then into the Showbands. I continued to play around the country at various events up until around eight years ago.

“With the band, we played with the likes of The Kinks and Gerry and the Pacemakers and we did shows with Chubby Checker. We were the support band with them, so I had the chance to meet those guys.

“I also worked for Symphola, who were the main EMI distributors for the whole of Northern Ireland. We supplied all of the record shops with artists such as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers.”

Now that the shop is set to close, Bert will miss meeting the customers and tracking down sought after records for music fans from across the globe.

He explained: “For the first 12 or 13 years of having the shop, I only worked the weekends and my wife ran the shop. One of the best things of having the shop was getting to meet the customers. The greatest kick I ever got out of it was when somebody came to me and said they had tried to get something and they couldn’t get it, but I got it for them.

“That is why our advertisement which brought people to us said ‘If we haven’t got it, can’t get it, it can’t be got’.

“Through that and through Radio Ulster mentioning our name, we ended up shipping to people who maybe had been home to Northern Ireland on holiday or had an Irish background. We shipped to England, Scotland, Wales, America, Canada and other countries around the world.”

Bert is a fan of many musical genres, adding: “I like a very broad range of music. Starting in jazz, I like Dixieland, I like country, I like pop, but not so much the modern day pop.”

Commenting on his plans for his retirement, the Parkgate man said: “I plan to enjoy life. I hope to go on holidays with my wife and play a bit more golf.

“I have been fortunate over the years to have travelled a bit and my wife and I have been able to see a lot of places around the world.

“My son lived in Texas for five years, so we were out there a few times and I have a nephew in Alaska, so I got to see there too.

“I had been thinking about retiring for a while. The lease is up on the shop and with Ulster Bank announcing that it is to close its branch in Ballyclare, that made me make the decision to close the shop.”

There is currently a sale on at Bert’s shop, with everything half price. This runs up until February 24 and if there is anything left over after this, Bert may look at selling it online, although he is still undecided.