For the record

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2012
Monday, August 27, 2012
Article Index
For the record
Page 2
Page 3

 

When Andrew Neerman opened Beacon Sound in Northeast Portland with Josh Tuntland last August, he was not concerned with the digital threat.

“The digital realm was already established,” he says. “Music Millennium had to deal with the upheaval. We’re riding this new little wavelet that’s almost running counter to the digital.”

Instead, Neerman was more concerned with whether Portland had hit its saturation point with indie record shops. With so many throughout the city, including one now less than a mile away, he had his doubts.

“It seems like a small miracle that we’ve been breaking even,” he says.

While most all of the shops earn enough to pay for themselves and any employees, owners say sometimes just barely. Many supplement their own incomes with side jobs.

“It’s a real scrappy business model,” Isaacson says, likening the small record-shop scene in Portland to that of the city’s food carts. “Get what you can where you can, and throw it together. It’s very DIY, and it’s very small-scale.”

Rachel Rhymes, owner of Record Room on NE Killingsworth Street since October 2010, works at least 60 hours a week without compensating herself for the extra time to keep her doors open.

“I’m the buyer, the grader, the pricer, the bookkeeper, the janitor and the promoter,” she says.

To attract additional business, Rhymes offers beer, wine, pinball and deejayed events in addition to records and cassettes.

“The idea was to be a space where people could come and hang out whether they were buying music or not,” she says. “It’s definitely month-to-month, but it’s wonderful and it’s growing and it’s going to be great.”

White at Clinton Street supports himself with side jobs like deejaying in Portland, Seattle and San Diego, and while he’s still paying off the store’s startup costs on his credit card, the shop funds itself completely.

“I carry pretty hard-to-find stuff,” he says. “I tell people I’ll find them anything and cater to them very directly, which is different from most places.”

For his part, Isaacson supports the Mississippi Records shop by running a record label with the same name from the back room. He has released 125 records, mostly reissues of old blues, gospel and international recordings. While 30% of his business comes through the store, 70% comes through the label.

“If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know that we’d be in business,” he says.

On a Saturday afternoon at Isaacson’s North Albina shop, the sun filters lazily through the half-closed blinds and Rocksteady Fever spins on the turntable. A customer brings three records and three mix-tapes to the sales counter.

“We’ll make it 60 bucks square,” Isaacson says, writing down the album names in the lined notebook he uses instead of a computer system.

The man pays and, leaving the shop, passes under a bright red, hand-lettered sign that reads: “Always … Love Over Gold.”

“It’s a cultural Portland thing,” Isaacson says. “People decide what their dream job is and just go for it, and they find a way to survive.”

Christina Cooke is a Portland-based journalist. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Hard to hear.Guest 2012-09-03 00:18:36
This is a great article. It's hard being a vinyl purist, and hearing that the people who make you excited to find new stuff are struggling. I've been to Clinton St searching for hard to find albums and not always have I been lucky, but I've always felt extremely welcome. Thanks for the article
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 RE: For the recordGuest 2012-09-16 19:46:17
Excellent coverage of an interesting story; the passion and committment of these struggling enterperneurs-- and their customers--is inspiring, and makes the world (or, at least, Portland!) a more interesting place.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

Semiconductor purgatory

News
Monday, October 06, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Intel's manufacturing way station; Merkley's attack dog; Diamond Foods gets into the innovation business.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

Revenge Forestry

November/December 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS