Vancouver's sole record store for sale

Longtime owner looking for a new, different challenge

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 
photoBrian Wassman checks the condition of an Elvis Presley album at Everybody's Music, an Uptown Village record store Wassman has listed for sale after owning and operating it for nearly 22 years.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

For sale by owner: Clark County's last remaining record store.

Price: $30,000.

Reason for listing? After nearly 22 years of buying and selling used vinyl LPs, CDs and cassette tapes, Everybody's Music store owner Brian Wassman says he wants to do something different.

But Wassman hopes the shop in Vancouver's Uptown Village will survive. He posted the business for sale in a Craigslist advertisement a few weeks ago. The ad lists the store as extremely busy, with $40,000 worth of inventory and a minimal profit of $1,000 per week. Wassman has only heard from a couple of potential buyers, and they didn't pan out. But he's optimistic the business will sell, despite a drab prognosis for record stores in general.

"It just needs to have fresh people in it," Wassman said Tuesday.

Ideally, the store's new owners would be as enthusiastic as he was when he launched the store as Recycled Sounds in 1992.

"We had in-store concerts and sold things like incense, posters and buttons," said Wassman, the sole proprietor of the store at 2312 Main St.

Deciding to get out of the business doesn't seem all that unusual, given an industry outlook published by California-based research firm IBISWorld in 2013. The analysis cites competing forces, such as big-box store CD sales and online digital music and streaming services, as reasons behind slumping record sales at brick-and-mortar stores. It said independents are closing at an average rate of 6 percent per year. The report projected a continuing downward spiral over the next five years.

Wassman said his store bucks the trend with a mix of hard-to-find used albums that appeal to the shop's specific customer base. A selection of used vinyl caters to baby boomers and their offspring, who crave 1970s rock.

"They want to hear what they listened to in high school," Wassman said, "bands like Pink Floyd, Jefferson Starship, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Alice Cooper."

Many patrons also like jazz takes from the likes of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, said Wassman. He insists that the vinyl LP is making a comeback.

Wealthy buyers, he said, seek the needle-to-record sound from high-performance turntables, which has prompted some new artists to release sounds on vinyl.

Despite online trends and the next generation of laptops and tablets, which do not have CD drives, "A lot of people don't want to think about an MP3 download," Wassman said.

Still, he admits his boutique business is susceptible to the fickle nature of consumers and the up-and-down economy.

"Some months are not as good as others," Wassman said. His best sales are during the holidays and in the spring.

He believes Clark County has a wide enough customer base to support the next owner of Everybody's Music.

"The minute you open this door, people are coming in and buying stuff," Wassman said, describing his store's two-fold business model. Customers bring in and gradually sell off their personal collections, an activity that

ramped up to full speed when the economy faltered.

Wassman pays cash or store credit for used items, which are marked up and resold.

"There are still a lot of people bringing in stuff to sell," he said. "You don't really need money to leave here with something."

He believes time and enthusiasm are the main ingredients for making a profit at his for-sale record shop, located in space that now leases for approximately $2,000 per month.

"The business makes what you want it to make," Wassman said. He started the venture in 1992 with his own collection of vinyl, tapes and compact digital discs as a base inventory.

At the time, "I only planned to stay in this business for maybe five years," he said.

Wassman, who was part of a popular 1980s punk band called Theatre of Sheep, said he might go back to work as a professional drummer.

He started the store, in part, because the hours were more conducive to his changed status as a family man with two small children at the time.

With his children now grown, Wassman confessed, he is tired of answering the same old questions at Everybody's Music. He wants to try something new.

If the store doesn't sell on Craigslist, Wassman expects to host a large "going out of business sale," he said,

Part of what prompted him to sell the record store was a dream about his mother, who died three years ago.

"She said, 'Brian, you need to sell that business and start living your life,'" he said.

Cami Joner: 360-735-4523; cami.joner@columbian.com.