A few notes on Wallingford, Connecticut. Roughly 43,000 people live there, making it Connecticut’s 23rd most populous community. Both Morton Downey and his namesake, Morton Downey, Jr were Wallingfordians. That really great movie Riding In Cars With Boys partly takes place in Wallingford. And that was pretty much all I could find. Well, that and the fact that it’s home to Redscroll Records, one of the raddest stores around. I spoke with store owner Rick about running a his store in a pretty awesome community. I especially like the part where he says “There are lots of great stores around these days.” Because that shit is truth.
1. Tell us briefly about your store.
Redscroll opened it’s doors as a physical store (more on that later) on April 12, 2007. We focus on “Underground Music & Culture” with a heavy slant towards the vinyl record format. We do carry a lot of things that might not be (and many that definitely wouldn’t be) considered “underground” and we also carry compact discs and assorted ephemera (DVDs, t-shirts, books, posters, turntables, record care accessories…). Used and new. Y’ know, a record store.
2. What got you into the independent record store business?
Redscroll Records started as a label to put out a few friends’ releases. That turned into a small distro that went show to show (punk and hardcore around CT mostly). About 6 years ago that distro got to be too much to handle so Josh Carlson (the guy who started the label) asked his friend Rick Sinkiewicz (that’s me; I’m talking in third person here) to open a store with him. We’ve now been open as a physical shop since April 12th of 2007 and we’ve been doing nothing but growing (to the point of being a bit over full).
3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Once a year we make a pilgrimage to Baltimore for the Maryland Death Fest. We actually spend maybe 1/3 of our time at the actual fest (which is great by the by). We’ve developed a good relationship with a few of the stores down there. Own Guru (a CT ex-pat) was great when we first discovered that by following a sign that led you down a narrow alley to a little hobble full of records beyond an unkempt garden. He eventually grew into a second shop and I believe he only has the second shop now. I have to admit I miss that first one and the amount of moving and actual digging you had to do to find the treasures. It was satisfying. Celebrated Summer is a great spot in the back of a comic book shop specifically for punk, hardcore and what used to be called alternative (indie?). True Vine is great for left of center more esoteric record shopping. I’ve personally found the most treasures for myself in True Vine. We have a small love affair with the Baltimore area record stores. Atomic Books is great too and I end up browsing books just as much as records. Double Decker in Allentown, PA is another favorite. We’ve done more trades with Double Decker than with anyone else and Jaime
(the owner) is seriously one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever encountered. Armageddon Shop in Providence and now with a second shop in Boston also rules. We could go on and on with this one. There are lots of great stores around these days.
4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Being a young store and having opened when physical music formats were already in decline we’ve really experienced nothing but growth. We’re able to cut weekly checks, have no debt and are constantly expanding.
5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Play on your strengths. We love music. We listen to it a lot and to a lot of it. We don’t listen to everything. Nobody does no matter how many people espouse to. I hold only surface knowledge of calliope music for instance. We carry a ton of more modern (60s and up – but generally even more modern than that) 7″s, but I’m not going to risk
spending money on a collection of doo-wop that could theoretically hold a golden ticket because I just don’t know much about it. On the other side of that coin I grew up listening to tons of college radio (mostly the Wesleyan University station WESU) which opened me up to lots of weird avenues that aren’t all related. Josh and I met in the
punk/hardcore community and he has a wealth of knowledge within that. There’s crossover between our two tastes of course and we don’t confine the store to just what we like, but it is reflected. We know some stuff, but not nearly everything of course. We play to our strengths.
6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
We’ve done some contests and whatnot, but really the coolest thing labels can do is put out great music for us to turn people on to. It’s really cool when labels discover us rather than the other way around. I’m constantly on the hunt for new music in diverse corners of the music world so when other people are doing that and discover us
it’s pretty flattering. I don’t want to mention any particular label because I’ll likely leave another equally deserving one out. As far as in-stores, we’ve had a bunch of bands play and it’s always fun, but it’s not yet been because of a label reaching out to us.
7. Why do we need record stores?
We don’t need them like water or shelter, but they’re fun so try to keep your local one around.
8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Black beans, seitan, rice, olives, lettuce, guacamole. Fun fact: we’re both vegan.
9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
Josh: Nightbitch, Living Laser, & Snake Oil (keeping it local!)
Rick: Cowards, Trust, Legowelt (this will change by the time I hit return)
10. What is your favorite thing about your store? And you can’t say the customers. That’s like saying Einstein or Ghandi when asked “If you could meet one person, living or dead…”
When I was a kid I collected baseball cards and loved drawing. I drew my fair share of what I considered to be my dream baseball card shop – mostly designed to look like a baseball diamond. I still like baseball, but not nearly as much as music. This shop is entirely the fulfillment of the further truth of my childhood dream (deep, right). Now I just have to get it to look like a baseball diamond with a stage in the center.
11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Expansion. Further expansion.