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It’s a very sad day when one of Ireland’s finest independent record stores, Road Records, announces it is to close down, its valiant fight against the recession and digital music sadly having come to an end.

And it’s also sad (but in a rather different way) when some of its own customers use a post on The Irish Time’s On The Record blog about the demise of the much-loved shop to comment about the fact they “never saw any girls in there”.

“There are always as many under 20s flipping thru the vinyls down the back as there are older beardy blokes. road, unfortunately, wasn’t as enticing for the non-beardy, huggy student types. or girls. only girls i ever saw in road were julie and my girlfriend who stood at the door looking bored on record store day.” – Peter

“Peter – have to agree to an extent with you, I think Julie was the only woman I ever saw in Road Records and my wife for example loves music but hates record shops.” – part time punk

Road Records was a welcoming place to men, women and children – any Saturday I ventured in there I’d see at least one parent with a cute sticky-fingered child in tow – and it was never a shop that made you feel you were ‘just a girl’ when buying records.

But this sad and sexist attitude that some of the commenters on On The Record hold about Road, and the apparent lack of female customers it (and other record stores) attracted, is thankfully an outdated one.

I’m a woman – I don’t think I can call myself a girl now that I’m inching closer to 30, can I ‘boys’? – who, like many of you reading this, has been ‘properly’ shopping in record stores since I was a teen. When I first started buying in Plugd in Cork, I used to get nervous before I’d go in, a little worried about my purchase, wanting to look ‘cool’. A positive comment from one of the staff members would have made my day. I knew as a girl I was in a minority there, but I was never made to feel like I was ‘just a girl’, or that girls were not welcome. As I got older, and as Plugd’s Jim and Albert became friends, I’d ask them for recommendations and go to the shop to meet other friends and see what they were buying. When Plugd closed last year, Cork lost a little bit of its soul.

I worked in Redlight Records in Galway for a little while and got to see things from the other side of the counter – and loved getting to recommend albums to people.  I loved even more having albums recommended to me. Because that’s what independent record stores are for – they’re for learning about music and salivating over new finds, badgering the staff for recommendations and teasing your friends about their choices.

But there are some people who may feel a little intimidated going into independent record stores – especially when they’re young and don’t feel they know much about music. And this attitude that ‘women don’t go to record shops’, even if held by a small minority, needs to be quashed – because it certainly doesn’t encourage more young women (and yes, girls) to go to them.

It ties into the patronising, sexist assumption that women just don’t know enough about music, that we’re not interested in back catalogues or rare records, that we’d rather listen to Lady Gaga than Throbbing Gristle (hell, some even listen to both), and that we’re more interested in being groupies than listeners.

But the truth is,  we’re just as devastated to see another independent record store go – and wondering what can be done about it.  So why not silence those who assume women didn’t shop in Road and add your voice here?

(And as for sleeping with a band member? Some of us would rather rifle through his record collection.)

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