Published on March 1st, 2012 | by Newt Rayburn0
The End of All Music Vinyl Record Store Opens in Oxford, Mississippi
Finally. After six long years, Oxford, Mississippi has a record store. And not just any ol’ record store, but a vinyl record store.
by Newt Rayburn and Rebecca Long
from The Local Voice #151
Local Record Mogul Bruce Watson (BW), General Manager of Fat Possum Reocords, has bitten the bullet and decided to give it a shot. “Why Not?” as he says, to a record store in Oxford in 2012. And who’s to argue? One look around in the End of All Music record store and you’re sure to find some vinyl you’d like to have in your home, playing on your speakers… It took me just a minute or two to find something interesting. Bruce Watson and David Swider (DS) are operating the at 1423 North Lamar Boulevard, across the street from NAPA Auto Parts.
The grand opening weekend is Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, March 3.
Dead Gaze will play in-store Friday.
Jack Oblivian will play Saturday.
DJ HWY7 will spin throughout the weekend.
TLV: So, why are you opening up a record store now?
BW: Why not? I don’t know, I think it’s time for Oxford to have something like that, you know. It was kind of a meeting of the minds and we said, ‘Let’s do it.’ The building came open and it’s just the perfect time to do it, I think. Vinyl record sales are exploding right now. They were up 25% for 2010, just in general, which is still a very small percentage of the market. But still, it’s time for Oxford to have something like this.
It’s been six years since Oxford had a record store. What are your expectations?
DS: It’s hard to say. We’re going to try to do everything we can to make it successful. We’re going to be involved with Record Store Day [April 21], so…
BW: I think any kind of local music scene really needs a good record store with variety. I think that probably one of the pieces that’s been missing in Oxford is a good independent record store. So I think it just all comes together.
DS: That, along with Ole Miss’ student population. Hopefully those students will help us out. When I was in college there were like 13,000 students and now there are almost 20,000 or something like that.
BW: It’s also kind of ridiculous for one of the largest independent record labels out there [Fat Possum] to be in a town where there’s not an independent record store.
How do you think your experience with Fat Possum has influenced this setup?
BW: Well, I go into a lot of record stores and I kinda know what works. It also helped a lot as far as buying direct and knowing people in the industry. It’s easier to get on the phone and they say, ‘Yeah, we’ll send you this and that.’ So that’s part of it.
I see there’s a mix between new and used records. Are the used records stuff that you’ve collected over the years?
BW: All of the used stuff is my stuff, yeah. Then David ordered all the new stuff. So, the used stuff is a lot of my personal collection, and I’ve got a lot more stock. It’s a lot of the stuff that was in Blue Heaven back in the day. When I sold the Blue Heaven building, I just put all the stock into storage, so I’ve got a ton of stock.
So, this is not everything?
BW: No, this is probably about half of it, maybe. When we decided to do this in November, I just started going through the stuff.
What kind of prices can people expect?
DS: It’s a big range, and it depends on what you’re looking for. We’ve got records for a dollar, all the way up. Hopefully someone will come in and see something new that they didn’t realize was on vinyl or new release that they want and they’ll look around and find something for five bucks, ten bucks, or whatever. It’s pretty price-friendly on a lot of fronts, which any good record store that sells used vinyl should be, in my opinion.
I don’t even remember the last vinyl store Oxford had. It’s been longer than six years, because Hot Dog wasn’t really a vinyl store.
BW: Uncle Buck’s had a little bit of vinyl. Yeah, we’re counting on vinyl. CD sales are just way down now, even on Fat Possum’s new releases. Everything we put out is 60% digital, 20% CD, and then the rest is vinyl. And the bands on the road—most of them don’t even want CDs to sell. It’s all vinyl.
One thing we’re curious about, is that vinyl’s kind of retro or whatever, but it’s making a comeback. How are you going to help people who don’t necessarily have record players?
BW: Sell them record players.
DS: We sell record players and they’re extremely user-friendly. They’re great record players, they sound great. Anybody can hook one up at home; you don’t have to have a big stereo or anything.
BW: You can hook them up to computer speakers…
DS: Or plug a pair of headphones straight in… They’re really portable, and yet you’re still getting a quality record player. We’re hoping that a lot of people will see the records available and kind of start from scratch. Plus, a lot of people are telling me that they’re plugging their record players back in, waiting to come buy records and stuff.
How much do your record players cost?
DS: Well, we’re going to have some used ones. Those over there are $100.
BW: We’ll probably get in more, higher-end record players. But right now, that’s just sort of what we’re starting out with.
So you’re selling vinyl records, a little bit of CDs, turntables…what else?
DS: We have some t-shirts down there…you know, that’s about it. We want to keep it a record store. I hate going in a record store, and it’s like a bunch of t-shirts and a bunch of knick-knacks and stuff. I like you to come in and know exactly what you’re dealing with, right off the bat, and I think we’ve accomplished that.
BW: It’s a record store. We’ve got a couple of guitars in here, but it’s not going to be an instrument store. If I find some cool instruments out there—I’m always buying stuff—I’ll put it in here, but we’re not going to carry many instruments.
What about local music?
DS: We’re going to have a local music section. No one’s brought me anything yet. It will be consignment, a couple of copies per release. Keep it simple, you know. We’d like to carry more vinyl local stuff. I realize that’s expensive and a lot of people don’t have that. But we’d like to stick to vinyl, kind of stay away from CDs. But, yeah, we’re going to sell local stuff. I’ve got some consignment forms to sign, and we’ll throw ‘em on the rack. Hopefully they’ll sell and we’ll call to get more.
BW: Yeah, but we definitely want to support local music.
DS: And we’re going to have in-stores [performances].
Yeah, tell us about that.
DS: We’re having our first one Friday at 4 pm, and we’ll see how that one goes, but that will probably be the standard, ‘cause we’re going to close at 6 pm. They’re going to set up in that little hall there, we’ve got a little P.A. system. Pretty simple. Free, obviously. Hopefully people will come in and see the band, buy a record. We can promote shows around town; if a band’s playing [Proud] Larry’s or Two Stick or wherever, they can maybe get a gig here first to promote the show that’ll be that night.
So, this is going to be a regular occurrence, then?
DS: We’d like it to be. I really think that’s kind of one of the responsibilities an independent record store has—fostering the music scene. So, we’re going to try to get involved with that as much as possible.
BW: I think we’re going to rely on the local music scene and the local musicians, obviously, to stay in business. I mean, it all works hand-in-hand.
You’ve got Dead Gaze playing here on Friday, and Jack Oblivian on Saturday…what else is going on this weekend?
BW: DJ Hwy 7 is a DJ from Portland, he’s going to come spin some records all weekend.
DS: He’ll be here Friday morning.
So, y’all don’t have anybody playing on Thursday?
BW: No, we’re going to have just kind of a soft opening and…
DS: …see how it goes.
BW: …and make sure the credit card machine’s working right, and…
I bet it’s not going to be that soft!
BW: I suspect you’re right, yeah! I’ve already had a ton of people tell me, ‘I’ll be there at 10:00!’
DS: Yeah, Tyler [Keith] stopped by just before you got here, and he was like, ‘I already see things I’m going to buy.’
So do we!