Hamburg’s Plattenkiste is an institution for fans of rock- and metal music. This year, Plattenkiste celebrates its 10th anniversary, which is more than a good reason to reach out to owner, heart and soul of Plattenkiste Christian Kind. Enjoy reading the success story of a record store that clearly shows that music & retail is more than just a click in the internet. It is about passion, dedication, soul and empathy – all part of Plattenkiste.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Moin Christian, how are you? I could imagine that the mood is quite good, because these days the Plattenkiste celebrates its tenth anniversary.
Christian Kind: Moin Markus, the feelings are mixed right now… On the one hand I’m happy about the anniversary, of course, but on the other hand I would have liked to celebrate it with my customers. But unfortunately, in the current situation, that is not as feasible as we would have liked.
MHMB: Tell us a little about the early days of the Plattenkiste. Did you always plan to open a record store? Or was it at least a dream of yours?
Christian: When I came to Hamburg in 1999, Ingo’s Plattenkiste was already an institution in Hamburg. Ingo himself, however, was no longer in business. At that time it was run by his wife Dagmar and her son Daniel, with whom I became friends. In the following years, I was there regularly as a customer, and later I helped out until I took a part-time job at the Plattenkiste.
“And suddenly he asked me the all-important question “Chris, could you imagine taking over the Plattenkiste?”Christian Kind
In 2011, when Dagmar was about to take her well-deserved retirement, Daniel also changed his professional orientation. And suddenly he asked me the all-important question “Chris, could you imagine taking over the Plattenkiste?” I didn’t have to think twice. I can’t imagine a better job for me!
MHMB: Were you already involved in music before the start of Plattenkiste, I mean more than ‘just’ being a euphoric music listener and metal fan?
Christian: Haha, not really! I actually did an apprenticeship as a banker. But those who know me, know that this really doesn’t suit me. I wanted to turn my passion for music into a profession, which was impossible in the province where I lived at that time. I wanted to do something in Bremen or Hamburg, and during my studies at the Berufsakademie für Bankwirtschaft I looked for jobs in the north. Then, in Hamburg, I took several jobs in concert box offices, record stores and electronics stores.
MHMB: What were the biggest challenges in the beginning?
Christian: The biggest hurdle was definitely the financing! The banks didn’t believe in the “record store” concept. In the end, my friend Daniel was very accommodating with the purchase price, and my persistence probably convinced the bank as well.
MHMB: Opening a record store in 2011 was a brave decision, considering the upcoming streaming services, YouTube, … In addition, there was the growing online retail business. What made you decide to launch the Plattenkiste?
Christian: Honestly? If I hadn’t been able to take over a store that already had a certain customer base and had been established in the city for years, I probably wouldn’t have dared to do it. But I simply didn’t want to do anything else. Once you’ve done a job like that, you can’t go back to working as a co-worker in a department store or in an office.
MHMB: I can imagine that in the beginning there were quite a few people who were skeptical about a record store, right?
Christian: Of course! Parents always want an economically secure job for their children, and of course this is far from that. And, as already mentioned, especially the bank doubted that I would keep my head above water with this kind of business for more than 3 years.
“The Plattenkiste is a place of friendship and community that has always given me a home even in dark times.”Customer of Plattenkiste
MHMB: You’ve shown all the doubters that it can be done after all. What do you think makes the Plattenkiste so successful? Why is the Plattenkiste able to hold its own against all these competitors?
Christian: I couldn’t have done it without help! There have been a lot of great people who have supported me over the years, who know that this is my dream and that I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
I think that many of my friends and customers feel that I run the store out of passion. The Plattenkiste is not a store where you just walk in, ask for Helene Fischer’s new CD and leave. When you come here, you want to browse in a relaxed way, find something special, something you didn’t have on your mind. You want to philosophize about music, exchange ideas with others who are just as “crazy”. I would like to quote a wonderful message I received from a regular customer and friend about this:
“To call the Plattenkiste a record store is as true as it is understated. With your open and welcoming manner, you are a place to go for music freaks, exotics and stranded people in the neighborhood. People come to you not only because of the best assortment in Hamburg, they come to forget their worries and needs for a moment and to have a good time. The Plattenkiste is a place of friendship and community that has always given me a home even in dark times.”
I think that says a lot about my relationship with my customers.
MHMB: You are with the Plattenkiste in the Gärtnerstrasse in the Hoheluft district (Hamburg). How did you end up there and/or were there other locations under discussion?
Christian: The fact that I opened the Plattenkiste in Gärtnerstrasse is primarily thanks to Armin from Comic Cave. When I was looking for a suitable location, he said that the location would suit me well, because he had opened his store there shortly before and Venal Virulent, a store for film lovers, is also located there. That complements each other very well.
MHMB: How do you remember the opening day?
Christian: The day went by so fast…after an extremely exhausting week, during which we moved the store to Gärtnerstrasse, a lot of pressure fell off me and my wife Nadine.
It was especially nice for me that even my grandparents came to the opening of my store on their wedding day.
MHMB: In 10 years of Plattenkiste, what have been the most memorable moments for you?
Christian: There have been some special and bizarre moments and encounters. Spectacular was definitely the 2nd anniversary of the Plattenkiste on October 29, 2013 when we had three live acts in the store with Enos (GB), Mangoo (FIN) and Rescue Rangers (FR)…and you know our store. Back then we had a little less shelves in the store, but with so many musicians and spectators in the store, it was quite a thrill! I’m still in touch with the bands today, and all of them also supported us during the Lockdown with a song for our solo sampler “Rock Down the Lockdown”.
MHMB: The hippopotamus has become the mascot for the Plattenkiste and is becoming a trademark. Has the hippo been with you from the beginning and how did the hippo come to the Plattenkiste?
Christian: The hippo was the mascot for the Plattenkiste long before I started, and since I’ve already changed the musical direction of the store a lot, I was keen to keep the hippo as a trademark.
Then last year Mike Foxall of The Neptune Power Federation designed us a very special hippo that also excellently represents the Plattenkiste in its current form.
MHMB: For the anniversary a 7″ is planned and I also heard about a concert which was planned but now can’t take place because of Corona? Tell us a little bit about the single and what is the latest status regarding the anniversary concert?
Christian: I am really looking forward to the 7″! I have already received the test pressing and I am very happy with the result. On the A-side you can expect “Words Unspoken” by Final Cry. I love this song since 1994, when the demo was released. Last year Final Cry were in the studio and re-recorded the song with Jörg Uken after 26 years and recorded it professionally. The 2nd A-side is also something special, because my friend John Allen made a singer/songwriter song out of this metal smash hit. So there are 2 dreamlike versions of “Words Unspoken”!
The single will be released in 3 versions, one per artist in different colors and one especially for the Plattenkiste with a silkscreen cover.
Originally we planned to celebrate directly on the 10th anniversary at Stellwerk with Final Cry, Detraktor, John Allen and The Ukeboys. But not only Corona stood in our way. After we had planned the concert, the Heavy Hamburg Halloween Festival was also announced, and we would have been up for it, as I’m sure would most of our customers.
But since Ingo opened the Plattenkiste in Grindelallee in 1982, we can celebrate 40 years of Plattenkiste next year. But we don’t have any new plans yet. We’ll let that come to us for now.
MHMB: Probably the last months were the hardest, thinking about the lockdowns and the Plattenkiste, which, like many retail stores, had to stay closed. In such a difficult time, what is and was for you the main motivation to keep the Plattenkiste alive? Or did you also think about giving up at times?
Christian: The first lockdown was quite easy for us. It only lasted for 2 months, and there were very unbureaucratic support payments. The second lockdown was completely different, as it hit us in the middle of the Christmas business and then lasted for half a year, without any financial support this time.
“This support from bands all over the world gave me strong drive again after Lockdown Blues.”Christian Kind
Of course, after a few months you start thinking about whether and how things should continue. In March I had the idea with the sampler and asked some bands if they would provide a song for it. It took on a life of its own, that after 24 hours I knew that one CD wouldn’t be enough. In the end I had to cancel bands, because 3 CDs were already completely filled. This support from bands all over the world gave me strong drive again after Lockdown Blues.
MHMB: We had already mentioned the 7″ for the anniversary and the lockdown-CD. ‘Rock Down the Lockdown’ is a triple CD with many local bands, but also contributions from Night Demon and The Neptune Power Federation. So you’re well connected and to what extent relieved that running a record store successfully?
Christian: It’s a positive vicious circle! Over the years I’ve been able to meet so many great people who often support and recommend the Plattenkiste. And it’s cool when musicians from abroad suddenly write to you saying that they’ve heard that the Plattenkiste is the best record store in the world and they want to order vinyl from you…that’s good for the ego…haha.
MHMB: Since about 7 months you have with Lars Remple (Mount Atlas) an own podcast called Cause of Deaf, which also celebrates a kind of anniversary with the 25th episode. How did the idea come up and did you expect such a response? After all, you had done a Kiss special with none other than Bela B. from Die Ärzte.
Christian: This is Lars’ baby! He approached me in January and asked if I could imagine doing it. When I immediately agreed, he was disappointed, because he had thought so much about how he could talk me into it, and that now wasn’t necessary at all.
I’ve been very surprised at how the podcast has been received and the effect it has on people. The other day a customer came and said that he couldn’t buy any more records from me because he was afraid that I would grumble to him the same way I scold to Lars. But I could calm him down with the fact that I already took it all out on Lars, haha.
Recording with Bela was of course something very special for us! He told us during the recording that he could hardly believe that he would work with Gene Simmons, whose fan he was…that’s how Lars and I felt during the conversation.
MHMB: Now two more inevitable questions. Number 1: What are the 5 records that are most important to you?
Christian: The nightmare question par excellence, haha…. but if I had to choose just 5, it would definitely be:
Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath, The Doors – s/t, Danzig – s/t, Nach uns die Sintflut by den Ärzte (yes, I’m old, I’m not saying by Die Ärzte!) and Nola by Down.
MHMB: And which 5 musicians/bands would you like to have in the Plattenkiste for a signing session?
Christian: Hmm, I would choose for John Carpenter, Mammoth Mammoth, Die Ärzte, Freedom and Kreator.
MHMB: Christian, thank you for taking the time to talk to MHMB.
Christian: Thank you Markus, for your interest and support!
Photos: All photos Plattenkiste
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