Tony Cregan had managed the profitable Derry branch of HMV for a decade when the chain went into receivership, and closed his doors. Annoyed, he decided to go it alone with a new shop called... HVM.
“They don’t own the alphabet,” Cregan told the Derry Journal. But restructuring firm Hilco does own HMV, and did not appreciate Cregan’s gesture. Lawyers were deployed but in an inspired bit of vertical thinking, Cregan responded by flipping his sign upside down.
Now trading as WAH alongside a speech bubble that reads: “His Master’s Voice has told us to change,” Cregan says business is booming as locals flock to a new independent sticking it to the man. More than 18,000 locals had already supported a Facebook campaign against the closure of the original HMV. Now they’re backing Cregan against Hilco. But the firm may not be placated by the nominal turnaround. The letter from lawyers reportedly also objected to the use of black letters on pink. “Do they own the rainbow too,” Cregan has asked, vowing to continue his fight.
The store will keep some life in a challenged high street, he added. “The town centre can’t just be full of hairdressers, charity shops and pound stores. A lot of people don’t buy online.”
He is also diversifying, offering free shelf space to local artists and musicians, as he tries to turn WAH into a creative hub, and expanding a comics section. Perhaps HMV should have hired him as a consultant while it could.