Beats working | Monocle

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“If you have an impulse for something and 20 people tell you not to do it,” smiles Steve Kulak, “you just do it.”

Kulak’s record shop, TITLE, in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, continues to defy his part-time advisors – the specialist music retail business is set to branch out to Melbourne’s Fitzroy area, with more planned for Balmain and Brisbane.

Kulak’s is a particular kind of Australian story. He backpacked around the world for 10 years as an aspiring writer – “definitely not a hippie” – looking for trouble and adventure. He survived and returned home to run an esoteric music distribution company, but soon tired of supplying chain stores: if Borders failed to shift an order within 60 days, they would return the batch labelled “never re-order”. Kulak bristles at this myopic approach to music.

The store itself is beautifully designed by the late Mike Murphy, with bespoke record racks crafted in timber and steel. Designed to stop passers-by in their tracks, as well as cater for hardened crate-diggers, it recently won the Design Institute of Australia’s Retail Interior Design Award. The Ryan Russell-designed Melbourne store will be bigger, with a floor dedicated to books. “Bohemian and business can go together – TITLE has a momentum of its own,” laughs Kulak. “I just wish my bank manager had the same sense of momentum.”

TITLE, 499 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney; + 61 2 9699 7555;

TITLE’s top five bestsellers

01 Keith Jarrett, The Köln Concert
02 Various Artists, Café del Mar Vol.14
03 Tord Gustavsen Trio, Changing Places
04 Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Naturally
05 Betty Davis, This Is It!

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