A Downham Market music and movie shop has beaten the odds to reach its 40th anniversary.

Lewks in Wales Court has been flying the flag for independent record stores since 1973 and owner Lawrence
Welham hopes customers will join the celebrations.

A 60s, 70s and 80s fancy dress disco is being held at Downham Town Hall on Saturday, June 1 to mark the milestone and
everyone is welcome.

“The tickets are going very quickly – I think it could be a sell-out,” Mr Welham said.

Achieving 40 years in business is no mean feat for any firm given the current economic climate.

But times have proved particularly tough for music retailers with the rise of supermarkets and online sales and illegal downloading.

An estimated 90 per cent of independent record stores have shut in the last 25 years and even the larger chains are not immune, with several big names disappearing from the high street. Casualties have included Virgin Megastores, Zavvi and Andy’s Records, and at the beginning of the year HMV also went into administration.

“There are only 269 independent record shops left in the UK – it’s frightening,” Mr Welham, 64, said.

“The key to survival is tailoring your product to the community. In any business, you have to supply what local
people want.

“In Downham, we have a lot of older people and they still prefer buying CDs rather than downloads.

“We stock a large and very diverse range of CDs, with everything from Mozart to Iron Maiden, Dave Brubeck to Calvin Harris and Dolly Parton to Pink.”

Mr Welham moved up from London to open the store with former business partner Keith Edwards, before ‘going solo’
in 1976.

In those days the shop sold mainly 8-tracks, cassettes and LPs, with CDs coming out in the late 1980s.

“We started video rentals in 1981,” Mr Welham remembered. “Now it’s all DVDs.”

The shop celebrated its 33 and a third birthday (the playing speed of an LP) in 2006 when record label EMI presented Mr Welham with a framed disc of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells – the number one album when the shop opened.

“It’s got pride of place on the wall,” he said.

Today, Lewks is West Norfolk’s longest-established independent music and movie retailer in West Norfolk, offering DVDs, accessories, guitars, books, repairs and more.

Mr Welham’s daughter Danielle works alongside him in the shop and her sister Melissa helps out from time to time.

Lewks also takes part in national Record Store Day, with special vinyl and CD releases queues of customers from early
in the morning.

The store is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

Disco tickets costing £7.50 are available from Lewks and online at www.lewks.co.uk/40thBirthday for £8 in advance only.