A tiny new shop at 1709 Broadway is “just records, only records, all about records,” Miki Rodgers said.
Remember those things? Maybe you don’t. Before Spotify and iTunes and even before compact discs — but not quite as far back as dinosaurs — music-lovers used to go to a physical store and browse bins of square cardboard envelopes containing these thin black plates. You admired the artwork and fingered the grooves in the disc, pondering how they could magically produce music. You’d put the disc on a turntable, carefully place the needle and watch the record spin.
Vinyl records are alive and well, and they’re back in Vancouver, Rodgers said. “Something is keeping vinyl alive,” she said. “There are 26 record stores in Portland that have been thriving for years.”
What’s the dinosaur’s secret? Serious audiophiles insist that digital sound is icier, harsher, thinner than the warm, round, friendly tones embedded in those old vinyl grooves. Cooler-than-you dudes know that vinyl is cooler than digital, well, just because.
Actually there’s been a record store in Vancouver for 24 years, at 2312 Main, and it’s still there, around the corner and up the street from the new one. Reports of the imminent demise of Everybody’s Music a couple of years ago were premature; owner Brian Wassman, who said he was tired of it all and looking to sell, now credits a great new store manager with helping to turn around the business — and letting Wassman take a break from always being on-site.
If you go
• What: 1709 Records grand opening screening of “Pretty in Pink” at Kiggins Theatre.
• Where: Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St., downtown Vancouver.
• When: Doors at 5 p.m. Wednesday, movie at 6:30 p.m.
• Cost: Free with donation of food, clothing or cash to benefit Clark County Food Bank, Blanket Brigade, other local charities
“Honestly, I had full intentions of selling out but what happened was, I had a new manager, Joel Mulligan, who was doing such a great job I realized I didn’t have to sell,” Wassman said. “When Joel came along, I realized I could own the business but I didn’t have to be there all the time.”
What Wassman does with his time now, he said, is scour the landscape for records. That’s what has convinced him that the arrival of 1709 Records in downtown Vancouver is an opportunity, not a competitive threat.
“I’ll make a trip to a certain area when I know I can hit a whole group of stores,” he said. A downtown Vancouver with two record shops will be twice as attractive to record shoppers as a downtown with just one, he said.
“I’ve already talked to them and shopped in their store. They’re doing a great job. I’ve referred people down there for things we don’t have and I think they’ll do the same. We’ll feed off each other and we’ll both do better,” Wassman said.
His store, Everybody’s Music, also stocks CDs, videotapes and DVDs; 1709 Records is strictly limited to vinyl and vinyl-related stuff, like cleaning kits and turntables.
‘Always about community’
Rodgers and her husband, David, have always wanted to buy, sell and trade records, she said. They moved to the Salmon Creek area from Arizona early this year.
Their downtown storefront is only 560 square feet, she said. And yet: “We have everything. We have a strong jazz and blues section. We have international, comedy, sports. We have an oddball section.” She said the store will welcome the connoisseur with money as well as browsers with a few bucks in their blue jeans.
“You have to have something for the customer who walks in with $3 and walks out thinking, ‘I totally scored today,’ ” she said.
Instead of a traditional storefront grand opening, Rodgers said, the couple decided to make a big splash — and make a difference — in their new community.
They’re sponsoring a charity benefit showing of “Pretty in Pink,” a 1980s cult classic of teen angst starring Molly Ringwald.
Doors will open for pre-screening fun, including some record-spinning, at 5 p.m. and the movie itself is at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, at the Kiggins Theatre at 1011 Main St. Admission is free, but they ask that audience members please bring a can of food or a cash donation for the Clark County Food Bank and/or a clothing donation for the downtown Blanket Brigade, a homegrown effort to help the homeless.
There will also be record sales, with a portion of the proceeds going to other local charities including the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.
“We are always about community and we live here,” said Rodgers. “If we plant our tree now, we expect to be around for years.”