Just over a year ago Kevin Douch opened Big Scary Monsters Social Club in Cowley Road.

It sells alternative punk and indie records and craft beer, so there was a ready-made customer base among the student population of east Oxford.

The coronavirus pandemic meant he and his wife Gemma and their business partner Leigh Shorter were forced to start running the shop on a click and collect basis.

But as restrictions eased throughout 2021 the store has built up a loyal customer base and Mr Douch said they were hopeful that 2022 will be an even better year.

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At the age of 17 he launched the Big Scary Monsters independent record label.

Now 38, he is proud the label is about to reach the age of 21, with records by bands on the label selling in the racks at the Cowley Road base.

Oxford Mail:

“We had lots to learn so opening during lockdown 2 meant we could start gradually and add improvements along the way,” said Mr Douch.

“We have made lots of friends in the local community who we didn’t know a year ago and we like to think this place is a good community hub.

“One couple liked it so much they even got engaged here - we were in on it and helped to put together a playlist for when they guy proposed here.

“Luckily she said yes and we are hoping to do some stuff for their wedding.”

The social club is now open Tuesday to Thursday from 2pm to 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 10pm, and is shut Sunday and Monday.

Oxford Mail:

Sourcing craft beer from different breweries is one of the challenges staff enjoy, and the club now stocks 150 different beers, mostly from around the UK.

Mr Douch added: “Every Monday Leigh and I do the beer order - there’s lots of turnover.”

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He and his wife Gemma lived in the Cowley Road area for 15 years until about seven years ago when they relocated to Abingdon.

He consulted Truck Store on the other side of the street before opening up.

“They didn’t have a problem with us,” Mr Douch said.

“We both think having us both here makes Cowley Road more of a destination for record collectors.”

Oxford Mail:

Those enjoying the vinyl resurgence can expect to pay from about £17 for an album at Big Scary Monsters Social Club, which is hoping to stage instore performances from bands as the year progresses.

Brighton group Orchards visited in November and played an acoustic set to celebrate the store’s first anniversary.

Mr Douch added: “We have a million ideas of what we would like to do in 2022 and I’m sure there will be some more bands performing.

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“We built a business at a time when you had to keep Covid restrictions in mind but now, as we head towards spring, I’m hoping we can now look forward to a brighter future.”

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