Vinyl Lives

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In addition to the interviews taken from my book Vinyl Lives, this page will occasionally feature interviews with other record store owners.

-James P. Goss

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Arkansas Record-CD Exchange

In December, 2012, Bill Eginton, owner of the Arkansas Record-CD Exchange, discussed his store.

Arkansas Record-CD Exchange store

North Little Rock's Arkansas Record-CD Exchange

Q: On the store website, you mention some of the Hot Locals, Little Rock area bands and musicians, like Sonny Burgess. For folks who might not be familiar with Arkansas music and/or musicians, can you give us a brief rundown of the some of the notable musicians from your area?

A: . There are plenty of notable area musicians--Hot Locals--including Sonny Burgess and the Pacers, Joyce Green, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Louis Jordan and many, many more. Also, Harold Ott (a former employee) has put out a series of CDs called "Lost Souls" which is a comprehensive series covering the garage band side of music in Arkansas. We have always supported local musicians through hosting in-stores, selling their music on consignment and promoting shows. Being here over 28 years I've put a lot of local records--and CDs and tapes--on consignment.

Q: What is the bulk of music that you sell? Break it down for us.

A: I stock over 70,000 LPs, 112,000 45s, and 18,000 CDs--of all types of music. I cater to anyone who has a need, whether it be 8-track, cassette, reel-to-reel, posters, neon signs (for game rooms and/or man caves) ticket stubs, autographs, toys, Star Wars and Star Trek action figures, posters, board games, vehicles, ships, ornaments and books and more. We sell jukeboxes, collectibles and memorabilia. We participate in Record Store Day. We buy-sell-trade-and we offer free in-store appraisals of music people want to sell. We sell R&B, blues, rock, oldies, bluegrass, C&W--whatever we need to do.

Q: On your website you have a picture of a 45rpm record. On the label it says: Don't Forget to Take Your Jacket Off. What does that refer to?

A. We've had a "no jackets in the store" policy for 18 years. All of our stuff is out on the shelf. No CDs are behind the counter. Over the years, I've caught three people with over $150 to $300 worth of stuff in their coats. These ripoffs used to come in five at a time with floor length coats. They'd split up in the store and one of them would load up. Anyway, the "no jackets" policy is like at the bank--no hoodies or sunglasses; or at the antique shops--no large purses or bags. Most everyone is supportive and understands.

Q: You host in-stores...how's that going? Are there any Little Rock music clubs or other good places to hear music that you'd like to mention?

A: We just had a very successful in-store in conjunction with Last Chance Records and White Water Tavern. The bands were Glossary, Slobberbone, Two Cow Garage and Austin Lucas. We had over 75 people in the store enjoying the music and purchasing the music. Some of the other area clubs in town for good listening include: Venus, Rev Room, Downtown Music, Sticks and a few others.

Q. You opened the first Arkansas Record-CD Exchange in 1984. Then in 1987, a neighboring business caught fire and your store burned. Have you moved a bunch of times, or has the store been in the same part of town all these years? Describe some of the things you've been through to keep things going.

A: In 1984, my first store was located at 4204 MacArthur Drive. About 1:30 in the afternoon of May 14, 1987 smoke came rolling in the air ducts. We were located in a strip mall shopping center. A donut shop, one of our neighbors in the strip mall--caught fire due to their grease catching fire. Nothing was salvaged. Later, we moved down the street to 5304 MacArthur Drive. We opened there on May 19th--with 150 records, donated by a friend. The strip mall was eventually rebuilt and on December 1, 1988, we moved back to 4212 MacArthur Drive. We've been here ever since.

In the late 1980s, when CDs came in, everyone with records seemed to be selling their records or trading them for CDs. Over the next ten years, I built up a lot of inventory. Currently, we've got 1,800 square feet of goods. During the 1990s, before the popularity of personal computers, we had five to seven employees. Over the next ten years, my daughter and my wife and I ran the store. And now it's just me.

6. Do you sell turntables, slipmats etc. What other items?

In addition to all the other things we sell, we also sell turntables, amplifiers, cassette decks, some 8-track players and speakers.

Q: Record Store Day (RSD) is really helping drive sales and increase the visibility for independent record stores. How's your experience been these past few years?

A: RSD is fun but also a lot of work. We have giveaways all day. On Black Friday [in November] we gave away over 500 LPs, 500 CDs, and dozens of t-shirts, 8-tracks, cassettes, and posters. Folks were loading up on all the goodies.

Q: A lot of record store owners I've talked to recently have mentioned an ongoing vinyl vs. digital backlash with plenty of their customers returning to vinyl. Beyond the hype, what's your take on where things (for consumers) are headed?

A: Our customers vary in age from ten years old to eighty. When they come in to the store they either don't want digital music-- or they don't want to download it. I hope there'll always be someone looking for something we have or can get for them. I'm on my fourth generation of change. I try to stay current, but some the technology has passed me by.

Q: Another thing that I've been hearing a lot from store owners is that the major labels could really do everybody a favor and combine three formats (download card, CD and LP) in one package. Do you think that idea might fly?

A: As for the major labels and their views: They said records were dead and reel-to-reels wouldn't last. If they can make a buck--and someone else will do all the work and show them how--then they'll do it.

Q: Anything else you'd like to mention?

A: I feel blessed to have been able to stay in business this long. Thanks to all our friends, family and customers for making this store possible.

Bill Eginton
Arkansas Record-CD Exchange
www.arcd.com
(501) 753-7877
4212 MacArthur Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72110

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Origami Vinyl

In a Spring, 2010, email Origami Vinyl owner Neil Schield discussed his Los Angeles, California based store.

Origami

Origami's storefront during their grand opening.

Q: How would you best describe your mission for the store?

A: When opening the shop I didn't really have a mission. It was purely to satisfy my childhood dream of owning a record shop. What I love most about it though is the community that has been built around it. We have met so many people in the neighborhood because of it. If anything, our mission is just to become more actively involved in our neighborhood.

Q: Is Origami 100% vinyl?

A: Ninety-five percent. The other 5 percent is record players, needles, cartridges, slip mats, headphones, record cleaning brushes, 45rpm inserts and our limited edition, local artist designed, Origami Vinyl tees.

Q: I'm guessing that you have very good sources for product. Do you have a one-stop? Do you sell local artists' music on consignment?

A: A huge majority of our stock comes directly from the labels or their exclusive distributors. Very little of our inventory is actually from a one-stop. Every label we have contacted has been more than happy to go direct with us and has been hugely supportive of us except for one, EMI. EMI oversees Capitol, Virgin, Astralwerks, and Caroline distribution and for some reason doesn't want to open new smaller accounts. Which is extremely unfortunate. More for them than us I think.

Consignment is an extremely important part of our business. We have a section in the shop solely devoted to local bands. If you are a local band and want your record in the store, we are more than happy to bring your releases into the shop, set up an in-store with you, and help you promote your new record. Supporting the local music scene is the most important thing for Origami.

Q: What is the current product mix?

A: We try to carry as many of the new releases on vinyl as possible, as well as classic reissues in World music, Blues, Jazz, Classic Rock, 80's and Hip-Hop. We carry a lot of reissues on 45s and 33s. We also sell local music and used.

Q: What is the percentage of new to used? Do you have a lot of re-issues? What about DVDs and/or lifestyle items?

A: Currently the shop is about 90% new and 10% used. Over the next couple of months we will be beefing up our used section and moving it upstairs in the loft. No exact timetable on that just yet. We do not carry 78s, CDs, DVDs, posters, or memorabilia.

Personally, I'm not a fan at all of record stores that have turned their business into lifestyle shops. I understand that many had to do it just to survive, but you will never see candy or toys for sale here. We are purely a record shop and that's all I ever want us to be.

Q: Do you have a category of music that Origami specializes in--or, that your customers like best?

A: Not specifically. People in the neighborhood are pretty diverse. I guess you could say we carry a lot of independent music in Rock and Hip-Hop, but that is what is primarily being released on vinyl these days.

Q: Are you a musician?

A: Ha-ha. Well, if you would've asked me about 15 years ago, I would said I was aspiring to be one. But, sadly, I discovered I didn't really have what it took. Sometime in college, I was singing in a band and started taking music industry classes--so that I could be hip to it, you know, just in case a record exec ever came along. Once in the classes, I quickly found that I had much more of a knack for the business side of things than the music playing side of things. Our band broke up soon after and I started a booking agency and never looked back.

Q: In your school years, did you study business? Are you a college grad? If so (or if not), talk a bit about what you studied or where you went to school.

A: I went to Cal Poly Pomona and graduated with a BS in marketing. I was really into the fashion industry at that time so I took every class I could on fashion business. Also, as I stated earlier, I took music industry classes to sharpen my knowledge in that area.

Q: When do you first recall having your "Aha moment" to have a record store?

A: As a little kid my mom would always take me to Tower Records to go record shopping. It was my favorite thing to do. As I got into high school, I started going to shows, playing in bands, etc. During my senior year, one of my teachers asked the class what we thought we might be doing come our 10 year reunion. I said: "Own a Tower Records." From then on, it was always something I had in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to 2008 and I got laid off from my job at IODA, a digital distribution company for independent Labels. My neighbor and I decided to have a yard sale to get some cash in our pockets. I put out a couple of crates of records that I didn't want anymore. I sold 40 of them in a matter of 3 hours. I was shocked. What would happen if I sold records that I actually liked?! I started doing some research and talking to some friends. 9 months later Origami Vinyl opened.

Q: What is Origami's square footage?

A: 400 square feet.

Q: Did you participate as a Record Store Day affiliated store this year? If so, did you have a good seller that day (from the RSD list)? If not, how was biz that day?

A: This was the second year we participated. It was amazing. I really love the concept and hope that it drives people to support record stores over the long haul. We had a good variety of things that came out that day and almost all of them sold out, so it's hard to say which one did best. I think The Hold Steady LP was the fastest to go though. Sales for this years Record Store Day doubled our record for most sales in a day.

Q: What year were you born? What area of the U.S. did you grow up in? If you'd like, discuss a formative experience relating to music.

A: I was born in 1976 in Whittier, Ca. and grew up mainly in Rowland Heights and Walnut, CA. The last couple of years of High School, my family moved to Crested Butte, CO, but after I graduated, I came back to California and went to college in Pomona.

Music was a big part of my parents' lives. They were very young when they had me and took me everywhere with them, including concerts. Some of my first memories are being at shows seeing bands.

Q: What type of business was in your space before you? Describe your neighborhood and/or customer base.

A: My store, along with Future (the clothing store to our left) and Two Boots (the pizza spot to the right) was one big furniture store that was around for a few decades.

Echo Park is a neighborhood comprised of Latino families, artists, musicians, liberals, activists, and some of the best restaurants (Masa, El Compadre, Elf Cafe, The Park), music venues (The Echo, Echoplex, Echo Curio), and bars (El Prado, The Gold Room, Shortstop) in Los Angeles. The main district is about a square mile running along Sunset Blvd and up Echo Park Ave. People here are very supportive of local businesses and enjoy walking and riding bikes.

Q: Do you have a sizable mail order business? How's Ebay these days?

A: We don't dabble in either.

Q: Besides Pete Townsend, do you get quite a few visits from notable musicians or music industry folks?

A: Yes, definitely. Many bands that are on tour make a stop in here. A lot of industry folks are big fans of the shop and have been extremely supportive of us.

Q: How's the current vinyl market?

A: Very healthy. It's great seeing sixteen year olds coming in and buying their first LP. It's so amazing to be a part of that.

Q: What is the store aesthetic? What's the store vibe? Do you get a fair amount of collector traffic? Do you have ongoing relationships with other area stores?

A: We really wanted the store to have a clean organized feel while retaining a very classic turn-of-the-century look. The store is organized alphabetically instead of by genre. We are pretty small in size, so it's very intimate and friendly.

I'd say our customer isn't as concerned with collecting as maybe a more prominent used shop might be. We definitely have quite a few customers who come in weekly.

We are very involved in our local community and do work with other stores in Echo Park. We host a Record Club every Tuesday night at the bar, El Prado, across the street; and we host a monthly club night at the Shortstop. We have done fundraising events for local non-profit 826LA, shop and art walks, and music festivals for the community.

Q: Any other clubs and/or concert venues that you like?

A: Some of my favorite venues are The Echo, Echoplex, and Spaceland in Silver Lake. I also love going to the Hollywood Bowl and The Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Aside from Record Club and our monthly night at Shortstop, we will be starting a weekly night in June at The Griffin, in Atwater Village, called POST-, that will have us playing our favorite Post-Punk, Post-Rock, Post-Metal, and Post-Hardcore records from the late 70s to late 90s.

Q: Do you host in-stores or other promotional types of events? If so, talk a bit about a favorite artist or presentation--something that you enjoyed a lot.

A: In-stores are a big part of our business. We generally host about 2 a week. Some of the highlights have been The Entrance Band, Ben Harper, The Growlers, Lou Barlow, Male Bonding, and Avi Buffalo. We have Holy F*** playing here in a couple of weeks which we are pretty psyched about.

Last May, Sonic Youth held their West Coast record release party at the shop. They curated the bands that played, stocked the shelves with their staff picks, and renamed the shop for a day. We even got Two Boots involved and they made a pizza that resembled the album cover. It was so much fun!

Q: Do you have employees? What is your sense of how your customers identify with you (or your employees)?

A: Yes, I have 2 employees: Sean Stentz and Brandon Tomas. Sean helps me run the shop and Brandon works part-time. Both are very good friends of mine, are very knowledgeable about music, and play in local bands.

I think the biggest thing for us to be friendly, helpful, and available. Because of it, we have made lifelong friends--regardless of the future of the shop--and that is what makes this all so worthwhile.

Neil Schield
Origami Vinyl
www.origamiorigami.com
213.413.3030
1816 W. Sunset Blvd
Echo Park, CA 90026

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Sweat Records

Sweat Records, located in Miami, Florida, opened for business in 2005. In September, 2010, owner Lauren Reskin discussed (via email) her perspectives--and some of her favorite things about her modern-day record store.

Sweat Records

Valuable South Florida community resource, Sweat Records.

Q: How would you best describe your mission for the store?

A: To be around forever. The old model of the all-encompassing music store is dead, so I see us as more of a vinyl archive or boutique where you can find treasures, as well as an all-ages cultural community space for Miami.

Q: Discuss the events surrounding your winning the Knight Arts Challenge--what does that encompass?

A: The Knight Arts Challenge is one of the neatest grants that I know of, in that the playing field is 100% equal for everyone--you just get x amount of characters to explain your idea. It's a matching grant, so that means we get grant funds equal to the amount we raise ourselves, up to a certain amount a year for three years.

Q: You are a valuable asset to the Miami community. What areas do you feel that you have the most impact in?

A: We're great at being connectors, networking and putting people in touch with each other. We are also great ambassadors for the city, sort of a portal to the music scene and other cultural events for tourists, new residents and locals alike.

Q: What about Iggy Pop's influence (or others)?

A: It just makes us feel all warm and fuzzy to know that Iggy is a local and digs Miami as much as we do. He's the nicest guy, and him helping us with the fundraiser for the new AC last summer was easily one of the coolest things that has ever happened to us. We are beyond grateful that he took time out from his busy schedule to help us out.

Q: What is your product mix?

A: Probably around 60/40 LPs to CDs, with LPs continuing to grow and CDs decline. We also sell books, DVDs, t-shirts, some toys and have our whole vegan cafe with snacks and treats and amazing espresso and tea drinks.

Q: For Record Store Day, 2010, you put on "Sweatstock"--lots of music outdoors, all day and into the night. How was the crowd? Discuss the vibe. Talk about the bands and/or a highlight for you personally.

A: Sweatstock was great, and the New Times just voted it "Best Birthday Party" in their recent Best Of Miami issue. It was a wonderful day--great bands, great crowd, insanely great record sales and no drama. We spent four months planning it and it went off without a hitch. Meeting No Age (they rule) and seeing them rock out with an extremely diverse crowd in a parking lot--in Little Haiti, of all places!--was incredible. Everyone really appreciated the event, especially because it was free, thanks to our grant.

Q: In the record store business, there are very few women owners. Discuss your perspective and how your experience connects (or differs) within the music business.

A: I don't think I've met any other female record store owners, but there's an amazing local comic/toy shop called Tate's that's run by a husband-and-wife team. The wife, Amanda, is super cool and on top of everything. Their store is very inspirational to me and Sweat. Besides that I don't feel at all that I've had any negative experiences being a female in the industry. Sometimes I come across men who I can tell have a bit of machismo (calling me "sweetheart" and "baby"), but it's almost an advantage, because it lets me know that they're not totally right-on.

Q: When did you first have the idea--or, "Aha moment"--for Sweat? When did you open?

A: We started planning in early 2004 and opened in March 2005--a year ahead of what we had originally projected--because everything fell into place so perfectly. I had been thinking a lot about Miami's lack of a real indie store and eventually had a "Why not me?" moment. I'd been DJing and selling records down here for years at that point and knew what the local population wanted more than just about anyone.

Q: Where were you born? What year? Has music always been a part of your life? What shows/concerts were big influences?

A: I was born in Miami on June 9, 1982. My dad went to Julliard and is a working trumpet player to this day. Both my grandparents were violinists, so I've always been around music. The most influential concert off the top of my head was when I got to bring down STARS on their first major tour, back in 2002. They're one of my favorite bands and the fact that I had a hand in bringing them to Miami for my friends and everyone to enjoy was really gratifying and inspired me to keep doing that.

Q: What is your take on what young people like about Sweat?

A: They like that we're indie as far as being uncorporate. They like that we throw tons of all-ages events and don't gouge people when we do. I definitely try to keep my 16-year-old mindset in mind when making certain decisions about the store. Young people don't have all that many options in Miami and it feels good to be looking out for them.

Q: What type of store was in your current space before you? Describe your neighborhood or businesses that are in the area. Are there any other record stores nearby to you?

A: We're in Little Haiti, and we've heard that before us our space was a bodega, a hair salon, a pawn shop--all sorts of things. We're right next door to Churchill's Pub--Miami's main punk venue--so that's obviously a good thing for us and for them. Nearby, there are a few other little record stores, but they are mostly Haitian and Caribbean music, so it's not competition.

Q: Size wise, how big is Sweat (square footage).

A: It's 1,200 square feet and custom built-out for our purposes--coffee counter, performance area, etc.

Q: Do you have a stage or a place for in-stores? How often to you have in-stores?

A: We have in-store events two to five times a week, depending. Roughly ten a month. We have a stage with a PA, a projector and screen, and tables in the center for crafts, meetings or workshops. Our most popular regular in-stores are our monthly "Casa De Ha-Ha" stand up comedy night and the "Can You Rock A Little Softer?" acoustic showcase.

Q: Do you do mail order records or do you have a presence on Ebay?

A: We sell on Discogs. It's a fantastic site, I wish more people knew about it. We sell a little on half.com, but are working on expanding our online presence with a full-on, local-centric Sweat Web store.

Q: How's vinyl doing? Do you have a specific type of music that sells best? Discuss your sense of how vinyl plays a part in the identity of the store.

A: Vinyl is doing great and we are happy to be a part of educating the public about vinyl's resurgence. We were even featured on PBS's national Nightly Business Report this year in a piece about vinyl's comeback. We sell a lot of the "indie cannon" as well as Jazz, Hip-Hop and Rock reissues, Dubstep, esoteric selections and lots of local wax.

Q: How much floor space is devoted to vinyl?

A: Around 60% of our music inventory is on vinyl.

Q: Are vinyl sales growing at Sweat--or are they pretty much steady?

A: They're absolutely increasing. We are whittling down the CD section to be mostly classics, used stuff, and new releases.

Q: What is one of your favorite things about having the store?

A: Using it as a platform for all the other things we do.

Lauren Reskin
Sweat Records
5505 NE 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33137
Tel: 786.693.9309
iChat: isweatrecords

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