Happy Birthday, inch by inch. We met up with shop owner Philipp and talked about the ups and downs of the shop so far.
Inch By Inch is celebrating its 5th anniversary. The record shop in the west of Leipzig is the address for used vinyl from the fields of techno, house, minimal, electro and “everything in between”, as shop owner Philipp Weißbach tells us. But hip hop, soul and jazz are also an integral part of the range. A few more compartments for rock/pop and a small but fine selection of tapes from local labels can be found on the well-stocked shelves.
We meet Philipp on a sunny morning before the shop opens, a few Discogs orders still have to be packed, there are Spezi out of a can. The best conditions for a little chat.
Together we look back at how it all began more than five years ago – in June 2018. Philipp already knew his way around selling records. He had worked for a while as a clerk at Musikhaus Kietz in the south of Leipzig. After his resignation from there, Philipp soon wanted to open his own shop. He already had the records for it. A shop was needed. However, the search for it was by no means easy. And the decision was not immediately made to go to West Leipzig.
“I had been looking for a long time (…), but I think that’s normal. People always say apartments are hard to find, but a shop is something else. You’re looking for a specific size, you have your ideas, the store has to meet certain criteria (…). To be honest, I didn’t want to go west, I wanted to go south, because Leipzig had the most record shops here, but no shop specifically for electronic music. But then I quickly noticed that there was not enough retail space in the south and the prices were too high.”
Philipp finally found what he was looking for in Lützner Str. near Lindenauer Markt. The first, much smaller store is probably still well remembered by many. On busy days you sometimes didn’t know what to do with yourself. There was almost something claustrophobic about it, Philipp recalls.
“There were too many records in boxes that I couldn’t put out. I was really partially claustrophobic in the store.”
A good year ago, the decision was made that we had to expand. Philipp found what he was looking for just around the corner on Merseburger Straße. A happy coincidence, but also a lot of work, as it turned out.
Floor tiles were quickly painted, the ceiling was soundproofed, a new counter and a few new shelves were built. With about five tons (!) of records then the move and finally the reopening in June last year. A decision that was important and Philipp hasn’t regretted to this day. More space for customers, more space for vinyl and, above all, a more pleasant workplace for the operator himself.
“The shop is my place of work and it’s nice if you have a few more square meters to move around (…). There is now significantly more space and there are also significantly more records.”
However, the last five years have by no means only been a steadily rising curve. Like many other shops, the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war did not leave Inch By Inch untouched. When asked about the biggest highlight of his time as a shop owner, Philipp clearly names the path to self-employment itself.
“Self-employment, and that’s certainly the case for every self-employed person, is a roller coaster ride and you get involved in something where you don’t know how things will end. Of course you always have to stay on the ball. I’ve seen what can happen when you have to close your shop for months and what that does to you. When one country goes to war with another and what the impact can be.”
Against all odds, Philipp remembers a “fat time” at Inch By Inch. The many acquaintances and connections he was able to make would not have been possible without the shop.
“That’s actually the best thing about the job. That you get to know so many people who love and are interested in music.”
Like, for example, Reece Walker and Oliver Bernstein from the former music distributor Shite Music from Leipzig. Distribution is home to labels such as RAND, Gestalt, Blaq Numbers, Row Records, Source, etc. Together, the three made the decision in 2021 to combine distribution and store under the same umbrella brand and to make Shite into Inch By Inch Distribution. Since then they have been working independently, but still closely together. All of the sales records are also available from Philipp in the store.
In the same year the founding of his own label Inch By Inch Records followed. Philipp tackles things as it seems:
“The label came about because you think to yourself that a record store could also create a label. (…) One assumes that an electronic record shop in some way also has a label. (…)”
Philipp describes the label work as hard, but you can still hear that it was very important to him to bring this music to the people.
“I wanted to put music out on record with the experience I’ve had about music in my life. Which I think will be just as audible in 20 years as it is now. It should be a timeless label.”
The label Inch By Inch already has seven releases and stylistically it’s always electronic, but very diverse. From electro to house, techno, ambient, IDM and even Italo, everything that Philipp appreciates and likes is here.
Philipp also calls the constellation of shop, label and distribution the “holy trinity”. A system that has proven itself. As further examples he names Rush Hour, HHV or the Hard Wax from Berlin. All shops with a label and some even have affiliated sales.
And as if all that wasn’t already a lot, he runs another label called Hole in One together with Oliver from distribution. Born out of a desire to have a rap label at Inch By Inch Distribution, Hole in One is dedicated to classic rap music. Reissues of old and influential mid-90s Memphis rap albums, many of them for the first time on vinyl, and a small 7-inch series with original, old hip hop beat productions by Philipp under his producer alias Drunkenstein.
Our conversation continues about purchased record collections and the personal items that one sometimes accidentally finds in them, expensive discs on Discogs and obscure in-store experiences. Time just flies and it’s like so often in this place. You feel comfortable and stay and stay.
At the end we venture a small look into the future. Philipp, hand on heart, how many years should it be?
“Well, to the next 50, right?”
So records sell until you retire. But energy should also flow into the label. He would like to make one or two releases a year. And maybe there will also be a small celebration for the 5-year-old? Who knows? One thing is certain: Philipp doesn’t want to do anything half-heartedly.
The speci is gone, the shop has to be opened up slowly. Any last words, Philip?
“Thank you to all my customers! It would not have been possible without you!”
And we thank you, Philip! For the energy and love you put into this store. A place where you can linger, dig and be entertained. Happy anniversary. Cheers!
Finally, a warm hello and thanks to Nikolas Fabian Kammerer for the wonderful photos of this meeting. This is Niko’s photo premiere at gladfroh – so here are a few introductory words from him about himself and the shoot with Philipp:
“Music was my first love … then photography came along. I even studied the latter. I spent most of my student days in two places: in the analogue darkroom and in the rehearsal room. Since then, my way of working has become significantly more digital, but my affinity for music has remained the same.”
The Inch By Inch exudes an unpretentious coolness that I find very appealing. As expected, the portrait appointment with operator Philipp, who created an institution for finely selected music culture with Inch By Inch, was also relaxed. Great store too. 5 Stars. Warmest recommendation. Gladly again.”