Not one but two exciting new record shops are planning to open doors this summer in Columbus, and they couldn't be much different in their approach.
Steve Louis, who ran Sour Records in Westerville from 1991-2003, is getting back in the game with a new business called Pop-Up Records. He's been selling records online since then, and when I talked to him for Alive's 2010 feature about the wave of new local record stores, Louis said he would need to find an extremely accomodating situation in order to consider returning to brick and mortar. It sounds like he found one: Louis will set up shop at 2579 N. High St., across from Kobo just north of Hudson Street. He'll only be open on the weekends — 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. on Sundays. His approach will be simple.
"It's going to be mostly used vinyl," Louis said. "Before I focused on new. And I will have some new titles, but mostly used. All the used records are $2."
Pop-Up will also be selling record players and a few extremely rare records at the other extreme of the price range, but the focus is on $2 used vinyl. Louis has accumulated 50,000 records (30,000 LPs and 12-inches plus 20,000 7-inches) over two decades of selling and collecting. He carted about half that to his location, a process that required two trips in a 26-foot moving truck.
"Every time I sell used, I'll just go into the basement and get more," Louis said.
He signed a year-long lease and plans to be open next Friday, July 20.
"It's been nine-plus years and I figured what the hell. It's been a while. I've got quite a stock. And I'll give it a shot again," Louis said. "Once I've started getting in the motion, it's kind of all come together in three weeks... Once I have something in my head, I just kind of go for it. It's been brewing for a while, and it just clicked."
On the other end of the simplicity-complexity spectrum is Vinyl Frontier. The shop, located near Tip Top at 53 E. Gay St., is tentatively scheduled to be open by mid-August with a grand opening on Friday before Labor Day.
"We kind of had an idea to do a retail project and approach it kind of like a giant multimedia art project as much as a store," majority owner Justin Crockett said. "We wrote a short fiction piece about a post-apocalyptic society that gets reunited by a mysterious DJ."
To go along with the conceptual conceit, Crockett and his trio of partners are decking out the building in a style he described as "industrial with gothic flair," including gargoyles and wrought iron. The front 25 percent of the shop will function as an art gallery with rotating exhibits.
Besides the expected vinyl and CDs, the shop will feature accessory items such as messenger bags and backpacks and books on consignment. They also plan to sell local music on consignment with 90 percent of the sale price going to the bands. Crockett said he's trying not to overlap too much with the inventory of other independent shops around town; although he will feature indie rock and classic rock, he also has an order of 6,000 hip-hop LPs and 12-inches on the way as well as 4,000 blues LPs.
He's also hired a dedicated event planner with the goal of scheduling 100 events per year, everything from DJ battles in Pearl Alley to music trivia nights to concerts by local and national musicians.
"We're really trying to not just have it be a room with a bunch of records in there that you just pick through," Crockett said.