IN February 2011, at the height of the music industry’s sales crisis, Gary Smith opened a new record shop in Oxford.

By his own admission, it was a risk – with music shops disappearing and the record trade in a downward spiral.

But seven years on and Truck Store is thriving as Oxford’s last independent music shop.

At the time, Mr Smith was looking after the store’s sister shop, Rapture Records in Witney. He teamed up with Truck Festival co-founder Robin Bennett to transform the former Videosyncratic video shop at 101 Cowley Road.

Ever since, the store has been riding at the forefront of the vinyl revival and on Saturday officially marked its seventh birthday.

Current manager Carl Smithson said: “We wanted to be a hub for local music and I would like to think that is what we have achieved.

“The vinyl revival in the last few years has been great for us. We have got a good mixture of loyal regular customers – people who have become good friends of ours personally – and, being where we are, people who discover us.”

He said the shop and adjoining Mostro cafe had become a second home to some customers.

He said he loved listening to music on vinyl because it was ‘much more romantic’ than downloading, adding: “You connect with the album as a whole piece of work. Things get a bit disjointed if you can skip through with your thumb – it’s not as engaging.”

Earlier this year it was revealed that sales of long-playing vinyl records in 2017 soared to their highest-levels since 1991. This was despite a shift to more and more people streaming or downloading music online.

Truck Store’s intimate surrounds prove the perfect setting not just for shopping for records but for listening to live music – particularly sets by local musicians.

Over the year performances to grace its small stage have included everyone from local heroes Stornoway, Foals and Glass Animals to Frank Turner, Beth Orton, James Vincent McMorrow and The Staves. On Record Store Day 2013, it played host to cult indie-rockers The Wedding Present.

Truck Store continues to defy the odds, offering the whole package for customers with vinyl records, CDs, turntables and accessories but also community events.

Record Store Days are an annual highlight, with the shop stocking limited edition releases for collectors and attracting queues throughout the night.

Mr Smithson said the shop was here to stay, adding: “We have no plans to move. We love Cowley Road. We opened here because we felt it was the beating heart of the city. Hopefully we can keep contributing to the vibrancy of the area.”