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

Private liberal arts education: superior outcomes, competitive price

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
0826 thumb collegemoneyBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?


Read more...

Podcast: Testing for Emotional Intelligence with John Hersey

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 19, 2014
ivbU3sIXBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you tell if you, a peer, a subordinate or a job candidate has the emotional intelligence needed to do well?


Read more...

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

Powerlist: Colleges and Universities

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation about higher education with the presidents of the University of Oregon and Clackamas Community College, followed by September's powerlist.


Read more...

The Alchemist

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.


Read more...

Poll Wrap-Up

News
Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 NewPoll-report-newsletterthumbIn this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.


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