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When Dave Harper and Michael McKnight set up Pop Recs in June 2013, it was only meant to be open for a fortnight. The pop-up record store business, established in a disused tourist information office in Sunderland, was primarily a vehicle for promoting their band Frankie & the Heartstrings. But Harper says Pop Recs soon became a hub for young artists and creatives attracted to its coffee shop, workspaces and gigs. “The problem was, when we first opened, we were only going to be open for two weeks,” says Harper. “We weren’t looking at it with a long-term vision. The making money part was difficult. We were always treading water.” Pop Recs continued for two more years, attracting major bands such as The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand, The Charlatans and James Bay to play there. But then its future was suddenly put on hold. “I found out via a Tweet that the council had sold the building. It was also the same day that footage of Franz Ferdinand playing Pop Recs was being used to promote Sunderland as a European City of Culture,” says Harper. “However, when it closed I always said this wasn’t the end.”

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