There is no shortage of musicians on Capitol Hill. It would seem however that there is a shortage of shops carrying musical instruments. Bischofberger Violins on E John has violins covered, and there are pawn shops where you might find what you’re looking for, and then there is Platinum Records. Located on E Pike since 1994, Platinum sells not only vinyl, but turntables, mixers, lighting — the standard accoutrement and tools needed for the men and women behind the ones and twos.
Platinum’s goal is to be a one stop shop for all things DJ, but there has been enough of a mandate from shoppers that they have now moved into areas that start to blur the line between a DJ shop and a traditional music store.
“We’re starting to get into guitars, picks, guitar strings, drum sticks, because there’s nowhere else on the Hill. We’re kind of venturing out, and honestly, it’s been a hit. We’ve been going through guitar strings like crazy,” said Platinum’s manager of ten years, Kippy.
Keeping their business focused on DJ culture has kept the doors open for their eighteen years here in Seattle, and for nineteen years at the flagship location in Portland. There is a table by the door that is always choked with flyers and handbills. Platinum sells tickets to parties and raves around Seattle and Portland, and tickets to events like the upcoming Paradiso Festival at the Gorge on June 23rd. “We probably go through in a month at least over three hundred flyers, easy, for over three hundred events,” Kippy said.
Platinum also does a good deal of online sales, but that business is handled through their Portland location. The Internet is, of course, the source of many people’s gear and records. But for those who prefer instant gratification, The Guitar Center is as close as South Lake Union on Westlake, there’s American Music on Fremont Ave, there’s Petosa Accordions on 45th in Wallingford — plenty of places to buy instruments, just mostly off the Hill.
People ask about instruments all the time, but for Platinum it’s about finding the sweet spot between serving the needs of the community and staying true to their intent to serve the DJ scene first and foremost.
“We’re still in the record business,” said Kippy. “There’s no doubt about that.”
If the original owners had followed their initial plans, there wouldn’t have ever been a Platinum Records in Portland, or here on the Hill. It wouldn’t have been a record store at all. They actually wanted to open a baseball card shop. The original three owners (now two: Scott McQuain and Ali Tabatabaie) were DJs in the Portland scene, and fortune would have it they went with their second idea, which became Platinum Records. At the time there was a demand for a DJ record shop in Portland, and they were successful enough to open a second store on Pike the following year.
“There were a lot of people who put up a fight when we came here,” said Kippy. Record stores like Orpheum and Delicious haven’t lasted, but Platinum is still around. It remains to be seen if Platinum’s non-DJ inventory (i.e. drumsticks, guitar strings) will send the store in a new direction, or if these things are small concessions for a community in need.