16 record shops owned by women that you should visit - Features - Mixmag

16 record shops owned by women that you should visit

More and more women are opening record stores and selling vinyl

  • Sian Gardiner
  • 8 March 2017

Union Music Store, Lewes, East Sussex

Husband-and-wife team Stevie and Jamie Freeman opened Union Music Store in 2010 – a bold move post recession that turned out to be well worth the risk. “I think women should be brave and open shops that sell music, but they don’t have to be afraid to mix it up with other retail, focus on the stuff they love and be a specialist in a genre – we do folk, country and Americana,” Stevie says. “Times are changing, women in the music business are becoming more present: there are more DJs, more producers, sound techs and so on. And so it should be.”

Vinyl Sage, Riverside, California

Tina Bold hosts a regular radio show, where she DJs mostly indie electronic and dance music. She also happens to run Vinyl Sage – an independent shop in Riverside, California. “The first show that I booked back in 1992 was Bikini Kill,” she says. “Most of the records that I sell through my store stem from this era of early 90s riot grrl, punk rock and indie rock.” Tina is a keen supporter of women in the music industry; she operates a “buy one give one” policy which means that for every record bought, a record is donated to Girls Rock Camp in Portland, Oregon, “in the hopes of continuing to teach girls about the history of punk and indie bands.”

Sweat Records, Miami, Florida

Established in 2005, Sweat is an indie music store, coffee shop and event space in Miami that counts Iggy Pop among its clientele. It’s the brainchild of two best friends – long-time DJ, “music retail nerd, and club/concert promoter” Lauren (Lolo) Reskin and DJ-turned-criminal defense attorney Sara Yousuf. According to Lauren, “Sweat's managing partner and music buyer Emile is also female, as are the majority of our other employees.” While this was more through coincidence than design, it’s a testament to the growing number of women making waves in the vinyl scene.

Records With Merritt, Kansas City, Missouri

After almost 20 years spent working as a manager in the music department of Barnes and Noble, Marion Merritt felt that the company “seemed to lose its commitment to music,” and moved on to realise her lifelong dream of owning her own record store. She and Ann Stewart opened Records with Merritt in June of 2014. Along with hosting local and touring bands for weekly in-store performances, the shop sells new vinyl, and stocks over 6,000 LPs of every genre.

Val’s Halla, Oak Park, Illinois

Val Camilletti worked at Capitol Records from 1962 to 1967, leaving in '67 to run a small record store in Oak Park. When that small chain folded in 1972, she was able to continue operating the Oak Park location as her own shop. ‘Val's Halla’ has been hers ever since and today, the shop – complete with an Elvis shrine in the bathroom – is something of a local institution. “Last year, the total number of new LPs sold in the entire United States was close to 15 million” Val says. “If it weren't for vinyl, it's unlikely we'd still be around.”

Mills Record Company, Kansas City, Missouri

Four years ago, Judy Mills went into the only local record store in Kansas City and found herself “scoffed at for requesting a record – you couldn't buy new vinyl at the time.” Her frustration spurned a business plan, and in 2013 she opened her own shop. “I had zero record store work experience, but I’ve been an avid music fan and knew how to connect with people and create a space that felt good to be in, and I hoped that the community would respond.” Luckily for her, it did. “We still grow and learn as the market gets more competitive” she says, “but our customers are loyal and keep us on our toes, and we make new friends every damn day.”

Dimple Records, Sacramento, California

The first Dimple Records opened in Roseville in 1983, and has since weathered the storm of CDs and digital streaming to become a chain of six. Dimple was founded by Dilyn Radakovitz, an impressive business woman who holds a national leadership role with the New York-based Department of Record Stores, a coalition of independent retailers. Today, along with new and used music, the independent business rivals larger entertainment chains, selling books, movies and games.

Permanent Records, LA, California and Chicago, Illinois

Liz Tooley and her partner Lance Barresi opened the first branch of Permanent Records in Chicago ten years ago – and the pair now have two LA shops alongside their flagship. In the Chicago branch, Liz says, “There's a heavy focus on rock, especially hard rock, psych and punk, as well as a well rounded selection of soul, blues, world and jazz. There's a little something for every type of collector.” For her, a little customer service goes a long way. “You gotta treat people the way you'd like to be treated! You’re surrounded by great music and great people every day. For me that's so gratifying. What more could you want in a job?!”

Tallbird Records, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Maria Harris worked in the legendary Beggars Banquet record shop in Kingston-Upon-Thames in the late 80s. She came away from the record world in the 90s to raise her kids, and later moved to Chesterfield in Derbyshire. After the town’s only two shops selling music (HMV and Hudson’s) closed down, leaving it without a record shop, Maria says she felt this “had to be put right.” In 2013, she opened Tallbird records – a riff on her 6-foot stature – selling new releases and the most sought-after second-hand titles. After just three years, Tallbird has become “a destination shop” for the town’s visitors.

Vintage Vinyl Morecambe, Lancashire

“When the CD revolution began circa 1990, my husband and I ditched our vinyl for the new format, only to discover how crap they were, so set about buying back our original records,” says Paula Baker, who co-owns Vintage Vinyl with her husband Mark. It was after tripping over yet another box of the black stuff at home in 2014 that Paula decided to turn the pair’s obsession into a business. They did so, it turned out, at the perfect time “to ride the crest of a wave.” With the vinyl revival in full swing, they were able to relocate from their original location to bigger premises and now sell “pre-loved” singles, 12”, albums and 78s in a shop overflowing with stock.

The Record Lounge, East Lansing, Michigan

Heather Frarey started out in the now-defunct local record shop Michigan WhereHouse Records in 1979. After working her way up to the position of cassette buyer in the 90s, in 2008 she finally fulfilled her ambition of owning her own shop. The Record Lounge is an all-vinyl shop with both new and used vinyl, posters, t-shirts, cassettes, vintage stereo equipment and local music and art. Heather describes herself as a “big supporter of the local scene”, and she hosts “shows maybe two times a month in the warmer months.” Often, she says, “I get girls in that say they think it’s cool that a woman owns the shop. It’s unique and I’ve had a ball doing it!”

Sisters of Sound, Manhattan, Kansas

After the record shop that Sarah Cunnick had worked in for around 10 years in Manhattan, Kansas closed down, she and her sister Leah decided the only way to keep their vinyl addiction going was to open their own store, and Sisters of Sound has now been open for 12 years. The best part of being a record store owner? “Talking with people about music, and maybe even introducing them to something new,” Sarah says. “We also love to promote local artists and bands through store shows or even just helping them advertise their shows elsewhere.”

Atomic Pop Shop, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge-based record store Atomic Pop Shop bills itself as “Serious about records: No games, no lunchboxes, no filler, no foolin’.” Kerry Beary opened the shop six years ago with her husband, and it’s now the town’s largest independent new and used all vinyl record shop, with a broad collection over 12,000 records. Stocking all genres from hip hop to rock and bop to Bach, it caters for everyone, from “the casual browser to the most demanding collector.”

Outpost, Cardiff

Independent coffee and vinyl venture Outpost started life as a pop-up, with founders Sophie Smith and Matt Jones travelling to festivals and takeovers. In October 2016, the pair took a leap of faith and started a permanent store in Cardiff. Sophie says, “We wanted to open a shop that stocked the kinds of records we loved, and to act as a showcase for indie and micro labels.” Like lots of vinyl lovers, Sophie caught the bug at a young age: “My house was always full of records when I was growing up – my dad never stopped collecting and listening to records. Getting new releases delivered every week is still such a huge buzz for us; being able to curate our racks, play them in store and talk to customers about them everyday is the reason why we launched Outpost!”

Vinyl & Vintage, Wolverhampton

Claire Howell has been a self-declared “vinyl junkie” since she started trading at the age of 17, when her brother “wouldn’t let me play his records.” Her shop Vinyl & Vintage is now in its fifth year. Prior to opening, Claire had been trading in records for some 30 years, but decided she wanted a more physical presence in a city. Thanks to what she describes as its “great rock history,” she settled on Wolverhampton. Vintage & Vinyl is a place, she says, “where people can chat, chill, trade or shop and even launch their own album. It’s a perfect way to get the vinyl fix!”

Peaches Records, New Orleans, Louisiana

Family-run Peaches Records was founded in New Orleans in 1975. Commonly referred to as ‘Mama’, the shop’s owner Shirani Rea is described by her daughter Lillie as “a second mother to countless local musicians, mentoring their careers from day one.” And it’s paid off: Peaches Records is known as the birthplace of New Orleans hip-hop and bounce music, helping both Cash Money and No Limit Records attain national notoriety. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the family lost everything, but in what Lillie describes as a “labour of love to the city”, her mother rebuilt Peaches. “Today, our store occupies a 14,000 square foot former Woolworth's building, complete with the last original lunch counter in the country.”

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