Southampton music lover finds new home for records with Oxfam Music Shop

Southampton music lover finds new home for records with Oxfam Music Shop

He had been expecting a letter for a long time, but when it arrived the contents were still a pleasant surprise. For months, Gary Smith had daydreamed about how much his mum’s records had raised for charity.  Last week, he got to find out for certain. His donations had raised a grand total of £504.

 “I’ve lived in Southampton city centre for three decades. I have always had a passion for music, playing guitar badly, singing even worse and going to as many gigs as time allowed. But long hours in financial services and family commitments meant free time got less and less,” said Smith.

 “Last year I was made redundant and decided to spend more time with my elderly parents who were in ill health. Whilst clearing out their house I found some of my mum’s old records. She was a big heavy metal fan, with the Stranglers and Joy Division thrown in as well. I decided to donate these to the Oxfam music shop. Rob and Jennifer were very pleased to receive them,” he continued.

 “Having always had an ambition to work in a record shop, I enquired about volunteering. Soon I was either valuing donated LPs, CDs and books, or working behind the counter serving and chatting to customers. I’d secretly smile inside when I spotted new and old generations beaming with pride at their new finds (occasionally my mum’s donations)”.   

 Oxfam shop manager Rob Milner has seen many peaks and troughs when it comes to stock levels. “We’re always incredibly grateful to donors. When Gary wanted to volunteer with us, it meant I could email him straight away to tell him specific items had sold and I knew instantly his gift aid feedback would be really impressive,” said Milner.

 “The store has certainly had many good years and seen many changes. Taking on books when the London Road, Southampton, shop closed and the challenges faced post lockdown have had a big impact on the dynamic of the business. Many of the records that Gary gave sold within minutes. Since we diversified to selling books, the extra revenue and back room space constraints post-covid mean it’s given us the freedom to be more competitive and decisive with our music pricing. Through sheer necessity we turn stuff over a lot quicker”, said Milner. 

“So many things have changed the last few years”, Milner continued. “It’s not just because of covid and books.There’s a completely different high street and expanded music retail. We’re a little in awe of Vinilo Record Store and how well they handle instores (live music events in the shop) and merchandising especially. They and Overdraft in Shirley curate the stock in different but really impressive ways. Then there’s Boo Hoo Records who are still going strong. Of course, there’s HMV which is great to see back on the high street. The healthy competition has meant lots more options for music lovers in Southampton.”

Smith added: “I think my mum would be over the moon at the fact that these records are being listened to again by their new owners. She is now in a care home and her records have a new lease of life in their new homes whilst raising the best possible income for charity. The shop can be a real treasure trove for music and book lovers. I have even donated my own stuff, I’ve gone off the Smiths, although my New Order collection is still under lock and key at home. There are still some things that are too precious to give away!

 “Having previously been a senior manager in an office setting, I am amazed how much I have learnt from volunteering and the others in the shop, from spotting a rarity to how to DJ! There are always new skills to be learnt—I might give my time for free but the experience is utterly priceless. I can’t thank everyone involved enough.”

 As he signed up to gift aid, Oxfam was able to make an extra 25% revenue and make contact with Gary in order to let him know how much he’d raised. His donation gained Oxfam hundreds of pounds in revenue. He donated his items just as the conflict in Ukraine was starting and knew that the revenue he helped create provided people with essential items like food parcels, blankets, menstrual products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, nappies, and cooking utensils. Not only this, but his generous donation has also helped to supported people in difficult situations by providing them with crucial legal and human rights information.


  • If you have any music or books you would like to donate all to the shop you can find it at 1 East Street Southampton, SO14 3HE. Phone: 02380236581. Email All donations gratefully received. 


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