In fact, it went ages ago. As I began to write this I looked the store up on Google and found that the two final Dub Vendor shops - in Ladbroke Grove and at Clapham Junction - closed a few weeks after the riots of August 2011, when its founder and owner John McGillivray decided to concentrate on the online mail order business.
For that sad fact I am indebted to an article by Ian Burrell in the Independent. When I heard about the riots, and particularly the destruction by fire of the old Party shop on Lavender Hill, I wondered why no-one had mentioned Dub Vendor bang next door.
Read the article, it tells you all you need to know - the way reggae went put of fashion, how Dub Vendor was always not just a shop but also a record distributor, and partners with the label Fashion Records, run by McGillivray's old schoolfriend Chris Lane, which had a studio in the basement of the Clapham Junction store.
As sales of Jamaican import dub-plates and such gradually slipped away as younger audiences moved off towards hip-hop, etc, so Dub Vendor and Fashion moved with the times, cultivating a new generation of local talent, the toasters and MCs of south London dancehall clubs. Names like Maxi Priest were cutting records there - and in 1984 their biggest ever success arrived in the form of Smiley Culture. He cut Cockney Translation there, and then at the end of 1984 the real chart success, Police Officer. Both tracks are sheer joy, the sharp and hilarious wordplay between Smiley and the cop (played by Smiley) is timeless.
Even before major the UK chart success, Smiley attracted the attention of the ITV show Ear Say which did this special on him and Dub Vendor in 1984.
|Dub Vendor and the burned-out |
Party Superstore a few days after the riots
of August 2011
Stabbed himself, they said. There was an IPPC report in to all this but its findings were never made fully public, leading of course to intensified suspicion of a cover-up, which in itself - in a hideous bit of irony - was later cited as a possible contributor to the tensions that led to the 2011 riots.
Seems the truly bad riot at Clapham Junction on August 9 2011 was a final straw for owner McGillivray, who sold his shop to the the burnt-out Party store next door to allow them to re-open as a much bigger superstore.
Still, Dub Vendor keeps going, with a great online reggae store, and also a living presence in the BM record shop in Soho. So, cutting cloth to fit, it is doing.
One step forwards, no steps backwards, please.
No more tears, just buy, buy, buy!