Vinyl Junkies Record Shack

Vinyl Junkies Record Swap logo by Camilla Robina

Eric Howarth of Vinyl Junkies and Tim Mays from The Casbah are working together on a new record shop in South Park: Vinyl Junkies Record Shack.

You might recognize Eric Howarth from his mobile shop Vinyl Junkies and the Vinyl Junkies Record Swap events at the Casbah. He’s now opening a new record shop in South Park with Tim Mays, the man behind The Casbah, Starlite, and Krakatoa.

It seems Howarth has come full circle with his new South Park venture: His former shop, M-Theory, is now in Mission Hills and has a new owner, but it first opened in 2001 in the space where ice cream shop The Daily Scoop in South Park is now located. Funnily enough, Howarth is opening his new shop just a few steps away from the original M-Theory location. We spoke to Howarth about Vinyl Junkies Record Shack and what it will carry.

What products will Vinyl Junkies Record Shack be focusing on?

The Vinyl Junkies Record Shack will be focused on used records, with a selection of top shelf reissues, and a well curated cassette section. We’ll also have turntables for sale and will be more than happy to help someone get a system that will work for them up and running. We’ll also be carrying guitar strings, so musicians in the area can quickly get some new strings instead of having to drive to the nearest guitar shop.

One other exciting thing is that we will be the exclusive ticket outlet for the Casbah where people can buy tickets at a much reduced fee. My partner is Tim Mays, owner of the Casbah, so that was an easy one we had to do!

And of course, record cleaning supplies, record sleeves, and some memorabilia.

Where is the shop opening?

The spot we’re setting up at is a house that’s directly across the street from the Whistle Stop. It used to be a property management company’s place of business. It has some great features to it that make it more unique than your typical retail space including a back patio. We plan to have some fun events on the back patio with DJs, BBQ, etc.

We’re renting the building from Sam Chammas, owner of the Whistle Stop and Station Tavern. I’ve known Sam for a long time since my former store M-Theory was in the South Park neighborhood. You might say he’s the unofficial mayor of South Park with how long he’s had two key businesses there. We’re very fortunate to have Sam as the landlord as he sees the big picture of what a business can bring to South Park, and realizing that it’s not always about how much you can get for the monthly rent, but also how that particular business adds to the community. Too often landlords will try to squeeze out every last cent for their property and end up with a tenant who doesn’t add value to the rest of the businesses and the people who live there.

Why the transition to a brick and mortar store, instead of the mobile shop?

I’ve been pursuing a passion for film and TV over the last few years and my initial intention was to sell the business, so someone else could carry on what I’ve started and I could have more time to dedicate to the film pursuits. When Tim said he’d be interested–but only if I stayed on as his partner to help guide the record buying and selling aspect–I said that would work as long as we hired a great manager to run the day to day. Then we realized we’d need a space for them to work out of so it was just a natural progression to have a brick and mortar shop to run everything out of. I’ll be behind the counter for a bit while we get the store up and running. But will then hire someone to manage it after that to give me some flexibility with my time.

Some people might think that opening a record shop is a risky endeavor with the popularity downloading and streaming music. Knowing this, what challenges do you anticipate and how do you plan on addressing it?

I don’t anticipate any challenges compared to when I opened up M-Theory back in the day. That was at the height of peer to peer downloading and the industry was in shambles, not knowing what to do next and what the new paradigm would end up being. So saying there won’t be any challenges may sound cocky, but compared to getting through that period, selling vinyl will be a much different story!

Streaming and downloading has left a void for people. There’s no argument that the convenience of having access to almost all music on your phone is amazing. But I find people have such a strong connection with music, that they still want to be able to interact with their favorite albums in a more direct, physical way. And that’s why we’ve seen the vinyl resurgence. The Vinyl Junkies Record Shack will be a place for people to discover those favorite albums and a community space for people to gather at in celebration of music. Our events will keep up that vibe in the same way that the Vinyl Junkies Record Swap at the Casbah brings people and music together.

Anything special planned for the grand opening on Friday, November 24th?

We’re celebrating our Grand Opening over two days. Friday November 24th is Record Store Day and Saturday the 25th we’ll continue the party with DJs, bands, food, and drinks. The entertainment schedule for both days is being finalized now.

I’d like to mention that we’re buying as many record collections as we can right now. So if anyone has records, cassettes, or turntables they’d like to sell, they can contact us at records@vinyljunkies.net or at (619) 816-1830.

Opening day will take place November 24-25 at 2235 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104.

Interview by: ListenSD Staff