In the beginning…….
Hunter Smith established Jumbo Records in September 1971, the name and logo coming from the successful disco and DJ business he was involved with called Jumbo Mobile Discotheque. The shop was started on the suggestion of an acquaintance who wanted someone to sell records at the back of his cassette and tape equipment store to encourage customers to come in. Hunter, still DJ-ing in the evenings around the clubs and dance halls of the area, and not being one of the most early of risers, decided, after a lot of deliberation, to take up the offer. Some loans, shop fittings and stock were organized, and he set off trying to learn as much as possible about the business and keep abreast of all the new releases each week (the Tams – “Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” was at number 1 in the charts followed by Rod Stewart – “Maggie May”, plus Isaac Hayes – “Black Moses” was our first good selling album). Within two months the ‘acquaintance’ got greedy; he wanted Hunter and his kit out so that he could use the space for himself. Needless to say Christmas and New Year 1971 was a worrying time. Deep in dept and with all stock in a lock up garage, Hunter trudged off around Leeds to find somewhere to trade from to try and pay the bills. Eventually a small room was rented for £5 per week, on the balcony of the Queens Arcade. The fixtures and fittings were squeezed in, some having to be left in the lock-up garage due to lack of space. A large part of the existing stock was sold to ‘a man in the trade’ for less than cost, in order to release some cash to help reduce the ever-increasing pile of bills.
Hunter then stuck to selling mainly singles (hits of the day plus imports and all the latest soul and reggae releases). People would call by to ask for the ‘tunes’ they had heard on an evening, and DJs were encouraged to purchase their records in the store. By late 1973 a full time member of staff was required to help serve the ever-increasing flow of customers coming through the door. Enter Trevor Senior – yes, that’s the Trev who’s still with us – he came to help over Christmas, but we didn’t sort out which Christmas!
By 1974 we were running out of space and the property was due for redevelopment, so a move to 102, Merrion Centre was completed in the September of that year. By this time, Lornette, who is now the driving force behind the business, was helping out on a weekend whilst training to be a teacher at Birmingham University through the week. Trading was good in the Merrion Centre to start with, but then we seemed to lose our way a little and our sales stagnated (good job the evening DJ-ing was still going).
Then in 1977 – BANG! – along came punk rock. We seemed to be in the right place at the right time. From this time on, we broadened the range of music we stocked and this period provided the framework to what we are today. Finally, in 1988 we needed more space and a modern shop unit to sell and display the wide choice of music we now stock – so here we are, at 5/6 St. Johns Centre, Leeds: over 30 years and still trading.