Found Sound is an independent music retailer in Carlton, Victoria. Noisegate sat down with owner Lewis Boyes to find out how he got to open his own music shop after almost 20 years working in music retail…
What is your background in retail and why did you decide to open Found Sound?
In the mid-90s some friends and I moved to Melbourne from Tasmania to check out the music scene. I think I saw 60+ bands in the first month I arrived. My housemate was really into guitar stores and quickly introduced me to the institution that is Music Swop Shop. After many visits, and a well-timed request for employment Bryan gave me some casual shifts, which eventually became full-time and my job for the next 17 years.
Music Swop Shop did not have a website or an online catalogue back then, so my friend Keith Urquhart and I developed a cool website, and I spent many months updating it manually. As you can imagine it was an almost impossible task, given the entire inventory was spread between half a dozen barely legible bound books, most of which Bryan had committed to memory!
Because I loved working there so much, I also developed an inventory system which interfaced directly with the website, and over about ten years grew to handle all the invoicing, and now handles almost every aspect of the business.
It was after this I realised I had invested so much of my own time in Swoppy, I either had to become a partner, or start my own shop. As the former wasn’t possible, I decided to open Found Sound in late 2014, which now has 6 employees and customers worldwide.
Is there an ethos behind the way you run the shop?
When I began the store, it was very much a lifestyle choice. I wanted it to be a fun place people could hang out and have a good time.
Living above the shop, in the middle of Carlton surrounded by the great food and friends made it fairly easy to create a relaxed atmosphere, especially since I didn’t have to worry too much about the overheads as I lived and worked under the one roof. That said it was quite stressful signing the lease and getting the shop ready. I spent a lot of time in the foetal position wondering what the hell I was thinking!
What is the benefit of stocking both new and vintage instruments and equipment?
I’ve always been into vintage and weird stuff. It’s a lot more work to sell second hand instruments, and a lot harder to make a living out of it, so having the new gear on the shelves allows me to give my customers more options. I now get really excited about new product releases and look forward to visiting some of the trade shows next year.
What has been the most exciting new release in gear in recent years?
You’ve become a bit of a staple music shop for indie musicians in Melbourne. Do you think you have a very eclectic clientele?
Absolutely! All age groups and styles. We always get lots of international touring bands too, which makes it pretty exciting.
Found Sound provided the location for the Amateur Hour skit ‘Gender Reversed Guitar Shopping’, how do you think music retailers can make their environments more comfortable for women and non-binary people?
If a complete music beginner came into Found Sound and wanted to buy a synthesizer, where would you recommend they start? Are there any resources you would refer them to?
The Korg Minilogue is a great place to begin. Plus, Melbourne has one of the greatest synthesiser resources in the world, MESS! You can become a member and get access to loads of amazing synthesisers and events, for a very small fee.
Do you have any plans to expand the shop further or to start hosting events?
I always had big plans at the beginning to host events and product launches, but it always took a back seat. Definitely on the cards though!