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For our April episode, we talk to Shamil Joomun, the co-owner of London-based vintage audio restoration company and café, Armstrong Audio. Now located in Walthamstow, east London, Armstrong Audio has a long history and a unique approach to repair. We talk to Shamil about his father, Twaleb, and his start in the industry and his eventual ownership of the store, and the multiple ways that Shamil has updated their business to become more than your average repair shop.
Analog attachment and the business of repair
Shamil tells us of the highs and lows of running such a focused vintage audio repair business. Business is booming, demand for audio repair holds strong, and the repair community continues to grow. It’s clear how rewarding the work that Armstrong does is, partly due to the nostalgia value of the equipment people bring.
At the core of Shamil’s message is the need for repairers to understand their customers’ emotional connection to their belongings. Rather than viewing these objects as a technical challenge to be repaired, or looking at their skillset in a purely transactional way, Shamil calls on repair businesses to really understand the love that customers have for their things. And with this, to structure their business around this love.
Armstrong Audio has had challenges recruiting engineers who are experienced enough in the field and also share their philosophy. They invite repairers that may just view it as a hobby, or budding fixers, to view upskilling inside of businesses like theirs as an opportunity to find viable career paths in the industry.
We couldn’t finish this episode without discussing the toll that the current pandemic and lockdown measures are having on independent businesses and the high street as a whole. In recent years Armstrong Audio have adapted their business in a variety of ways to involve the customer in the process of repair and creating a more welcoming atmosphere, and as such has become a local standout. While one might expect Shamil to have a negative outlook on having to close his store, for the time being, he actually highlights the possibility of a brighter future for the relationship between local communities and their businesses.
- Armstrong Audio (the business today!)
- Wikipedia on Armstrong Audio’s history
- Photos of Armstrong Audio equipment and people at the UK Hifi Historical Society
- Armstrong Factory Maps
- Our Covid-19 London repair listing
[Images courtesy of Armstrong Audio, Ken Hart, Jim Lesurf and the UK Hi-Fi History Society]