The UK’s last cassette shop reels is reeling in nostalgic music lovers

Tucked away in a corner of the top floor of an indoor market in Manchester, northwest England, is the last shop in Britain dedicated to selling cassettes.

Mars Tapes crams about 1,000 cassettes, a Coca-Cola radio, boom boxes, vintage editions of the Walkman cassette player and other tape-related accessories in a compact retail unit smaller than one of the city’s tram carriages.

Hits by stars including Elvis Presley, Florence and the Machine, and Lewis Capaldi line its shelves, as classic tracks provide a musical backdrop, taking customers back in time.

The shop was set up in 2019 by an eclectic group of people united by a love of music, explained co-founder Giorgio Carbone.

Spanish sound engineer Borja Regueira, 28, and his girlfriend Moira Lorenzo, 27, initially proposed starting a cassette-only shop.

Italian Carbone, 30, and journalist and musician Alex Tadros, 28, supported the idea and merged the store into the group’s record label.

Pandemic induced nostalgia

The shop is tapping into a nostalgic trend in cultural consumption accentuated by the coronavirus pandemic.

People have turned to reading books and watching classic films and television series to stave off boredom and find escapism during lockdowns.

Sales of vinyl – the pocket-sized plastic cassettes’ predecessor in music distribution – jumped to their highest level since the 1990s in Britain last year.

Modern artists such as Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa and Selena Gomez have released tapes recently, pushing cassette sales in Britain up to about 157,000 in 2020 – the highest figure since 2003.

Mass production of cassettes began in the 1960s, with 2.4 million tape players produced and sold worldwide by 86 different manufacturers by 1968.

But their UK heyday ended with the explosion of CD sales in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving some music fans pining for a bygone era.

Warehouse manager Mark Williams, 38, browsed Mars Tapes’s collection with an analogue camera hanging from his neck and said his interest originated in “nostalgia more than anything”.

“I’m a child of the 1980s and 1990s – I grew up with cassettes. It’s tangible, something you physically own, not just downloaded data,” he told AFP.

Social conscience

But the boom in cassette consumption is not confined to an older generation seeking to relive their youth.

Younger listeners also increasingly prefer to savour music rather than mindlessly skipping through online playlists and endlessly scrolling through social media.

“People like the idea of having something physical. Lately especially, with coronavirus and lockdown, it’s a way of appreciating the music more,” said Carbone.

“There’s a lot of work behind a cassette. It’s something we lost with time, to appreciate what we have and listen to something more than once and not just skip it.”

Care assistant Jane Fielding, 22, occasionally listens to cassettes on her Walkman. “I like the simplicity – there’s no distractions, no notifications on my phone,” she said.

Most tapes cost no more than £10 ($14), with prices rising to £50 for limited-edition products.

Cassettes are cheaper and easier to produce than vinyl and Mars Tapes limits its runs depending on the genre and band to keep costs down, Carbone explained.

The store acquires stock from websites such as eBay, individual donations and record labels including Universal, while Carbone, Tadros and Regueira’s record label supports local indie bands by purchasing their tapes.

“In Italy, there’s not that music culture. It’s good to be here because there’s a lot of people passionate about cassettes,” said Carbone.

“We thought cassettes was the most affordable way of making records and helping bands.”

And socially-conscious listeners want independent artists to earn a good living from their work instead of filling the coffers of streaming giants such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Streaming services accounted for 80 per cent of UK music consumption in 2020, but have been criticised for shortchanging musicians. “You own the music and support the artist, big and small,” Carbone added.

Carbone acknowledged it seemed “crazy” to occupy a bigger unit after the UK’s 2021 winter lockdown and the economic damage it wrought.

But grants from Manchester’s council and rent holidays helped Mars Tapes survive.

He thinks cassettes will remain a “niche” interest, but reckons demand will remain steady. “There’s something about the sounds of cassettes that’s just different,” he said.

Prospective customer John Yates, 45, a shop manager, agreed.

“It sounds better on cassettes, a lot different than listening on the radio – it’s another level,” he said.

Updated: September 10th 2021, 1:20 PM

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Spare

Profile

Company name: Spare

Started: March 2018

Co-founders: Dalal Alrayes and Saurabh Shah

Based: UAE

Sector: FinTech

Investment: Own savings. Going for first round of fund-raising in March 2019

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Temple numbers

Expected completion: 2022

Height: 24 meters

Ground floor banquet hall: 370 square metres to accommodate about 750 people

Ground floor multipurpose hall: 92 square metres for up to 200 people

First floor main Prayer Hall: 465 square metres to hold 1,500 people at a time

First floor terrace areas: 2,30 square metres  

Temple will be spread over 6,900 square metres

Structure includes two basements, ground and first floor 

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.

Wenger’s Arsenal reign in numbers

1,228 – games at the helm, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham United.
704 – wins to date as Arsenal manager.
3 – Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/04.
1,549 – goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger’s teams.
10 – major trophies won.
473 – Premier League victories.
7 – FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons.
151 – Premier League losses.
21 – full seasons in charge.
49 – games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004.