In the void left after Sonic Boom abandoned its Capitol Hill location last September, the Melrose Vinyl Market has emerged on the Hill’s music retailing scene. As the name implies, the shop specializes in records. It sells vinyl on consignment for small labels like Mossy Bottom and Satisfaction Records as well as private collectors. Sonic Boom owner Jason Hughes owns the the Melrose Vinyl Market, and the shop is within the Sonic Boom umbrella, but it’s a bird of a distinctly different feather.
Looking at the shop from the sidewalk the first thing you see is the for-lease sign on the front window.
The shop has been open for almost three months and continues to ride out Sonic Boom’s old lease in the space along with a photo studio set-up. CHS spoke with Jake, one of two people who run the store. “It’s been okay, people are still trying to figure it out,” he said. There’s been some confusion, apparently, when people find a record store where a full-fledged music store used to be. Sometimes they wonder what happened to all the CDs. As a specialty vinyl-only record store, the Market also attract the kind of shoppers who seek out obscure and vintage vinyl.
MVM represents a regrouping for shops that couldn’t make it on their own. “[Mossy Bottom Records] lost their lease in the U-Dist right about the time that we started doing this, so that worked out pretty well,” Jake said. The bulk of the inventory in the shop is merchandise sold on consignment for collectors and re-sellers. As it’s become difficult for many record stores to keep their doors open in a world of digital downloads, shops like these may be a glimpse into the future.
The records on offer represent the nooks and crannies of music. Each seller has their own area of interest, and each of their sections offers different genres, groupings, and themes. Each seller’s section represents a different sensibility, and browsing through them is like micro educations in musicology. It’s not flashy, but there are gems in those crates.
Betting on people’s desire for something physical in the face of a digital world is what has kept the shop open so far. It also fills what would have been an empty space. For all of the people predicting the death of vinyl through multiple format revolutions, it seems that records still have a foothold. It remains to be seen if the MVM can make it work. According to Jake, “The way it’s looking, we’ll be around for a while.”
National Record Store Day is Saturday. Go buy some music.