Four months ago, Brett Ruland was sweating.
The perspiration was partly due to the intense July heat that plagued his newly procured Long Street storefront. Air conditioning was one of the last elements Ruland took care of after fixing up the place with pinball machines, theater seats and a checkerboard floor.
But there were also some nerves regarding Ruland's intentions for the space. On the tail end of a decade defined by the immediacy of Napster, the privacy of iPods and the personalization of Pandora, the former graphic designer was throwing his life savings into opening a record store, Spoonful Records.
You may say Ruland's a dreamer, but he's not the only one. In an era when the independent record store is supposed to be dying at the hands of big-box retail and the digital revolution, Columbus has seen three new independent record shops open this year. A fourth music retailer opened in Delaware last month.
The Delaware shop is humorously named Endangered Species The Last Record Store On Earth!??. But all jokes aside, mom-and-pop record shops seem to be experiencing a resurgence in Central Ohio.
Although one-time Campus institution Singing Dog Records quietly closed its doors late last year, the trend since then has not been old standbys dying out but rather new merchants getting in the game. Alongside old favorites like Used Kids, Magnolia Thunderpussy and Lost Weekend you can now add Spoonful, Dreadful Sounds and Elizabeth's Records.
Like any music shop worth its weight in vinyl, these upstarts are each putting their own personalized spin on selling records. But they share quite a few common threads.
The businesses are run by music obsessives who are aiming to recapture a sense of community you can't conjure by pointing and clicking. Most are offering audio equipment to accessorize their inventory, which is almost exclusively vinyl. And they just want to get along.
"I don't see how it would hurt to have a bunch of record stores," said Ruland, 38. "With used vinyl, you never know what a store's going to have. You can't just go to one store and expect a record to walk in. You've kind of got to hit them all. I look at having more record stores as a healthy thing."