Behind the Counter: Slow Boat Records (Wellington, New Zealand)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

Slow Boat Records in Wellington, New Zealand is one of the record stores of yore, owned and operated by Dennis O’Brien for more than 25 years in the heart of the downtown area. The store sells both new and used records and places an emphasis on local and harder-to-find bands. Over time, it has expanded its Internet presence and now sells online as well as in store. We spoke to Slow Boat’s Jeremy Taylor to get the scoop on this Kiwi “mom and pop” record shop.

Which albums has your store sold the most over the past month?

We have sold a whole bunch of vinyl copies of local indie band The Phoenix Foundation’s latest album Buffalo; we had 300 copies pressed and have sold them exclusively through the shop and through the band’s own website. Big sellers over X-mas were Soul Jazz’s Deutsche Electronique Musique compilation, the new Robert Plant LP Band Of Joy, Mavis StaplesYou Are Not Alone… and I never cease to be amazed by how many copies of The Velvet Underground & Nico we sell on LP.

What is the musical community like in Wellington?

Wellington has a strong musical community; we are regularly visited by musicians from some of the more popular bands from the local scene such as The Phoenix Foundation, Fat Freddys Drop, and Trinity Roots, and we have also hosted some impressive in-store performances.

Slow Boat Records

What was your motivation for starting a music store?

Slow Boat was started by owner Dennis O’Brien 25 years ago, born out of a love for music and records. The motivation is still pretty much the same today!

What do you think has led to your continued success?

Keeping things simple, not trying to be anything other than a good record store, knowledge about what we are selling, taking good care of our regulars!

What can someone expect when visiting Slow Boat for the first time?

A huge assortment of records, CDs and DVDs of every type, but with an emphasis on NZ music and specialist genres, that are not served so much by the chain stores. Knowledgeable staff — a traditional, old-fashioned “mom and pop” record store.

Slow Boat Records

What is the Slow Boat Inquisition?

The Inquisition is a feature on our website ( where we ask some pertinent questions of some of our well-known and celeb customers — included have been Pet Sounds lyricist Tony Asher, NZ writer Witi Ihimaera, celebrated NZ singer/ songwriter Dave Dobbyn, and former English test cricketer Derek Pringle.

How do you utilize the Internet, and how has it affected your business?

We use the ‘net to research prices, as well as to sell online through GEMM, Netsounds, and Musicstack. What it takes away in terms of people shopping online is probably made up for by the top-end business it brings…

Any big future plans for Slow Boat?

To keep on keepin’ on – bigger, better, faster, more!

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