The first step to making a business work is getting people in the building. And in this line of work, that means keeping fresh vinyl in the racks.

The first step to making a business work is getting people in the building. And in this line of work, that means keeping fresh vinyl in the racks.

"The minute store inventory stays the same," Ruland said, "people won't come back."

Derouen would love to be out hunting for records, but he's mostly behind the counter for now because his girlfriend and business partner, Sykes, left in July for a yearlong teaching job in Japan. Thus, he's dependent on customers to bring him quality stuff.

Ruland is in a similar spot. He shuffles untouched merchandise out of the racks after two months, not wanting Spoonful to become a place where crappy records go to die.

To combat stagnancy, Ruland initiated a swap system with Derouen. When Spoonful comes across, say, a Slayer LP, they trade it to Dreadful Sounds for something like a Tom Waits album.

It's one of many ways Ruland hopes the indie shops can work together rather than fight; he has also imagined publishing an annual Columbus record store map each shop can hand out to customers to help cross-pollinate business.

All of the new record shops are hoping to attract customers with frequent in-store performances, too. Elizabeth's, Spoonful and Endangered Species are even setting aside special stage areas. Spoonful and Dreadful Sounds frequently post updates about new inventory on Facebook, a trick Ruland said has been good for three to five customers a day.

Across the board, they're trying to be creative, doing whatever they can to sustain this suddenly popular gambit of selling records for a living.

"If we can get people in the door for the first time," Ruland said, "I guarantee they'll come back."