More than just being the college basketball mecca and home of the khaki, tucked in Polo, sandal-combo that southern frat bros so love, North Carolina’s Triangle region (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) has a history steeped in serious rock and roll. So of course the area must have some serious rock and roll record stores, ya? Of course there is the already-profiled Bull City and the renowned CD Alley, but arguably the most revered in the area is Raleigh’s Schoolkids. I spoke with main Schoolkid Stephen Judge (no relation to our own Judge) about his favorite stores and tacos but didn’t ask him what the fuck Robert Plant was buying at the store.
1. Tell us briefly about your store.
Schoolkids Records in Raleigh, NC. We just celebrated our 39th Anniversary last weekend which happened to be on Record Store Day and had the best sales day in story history. The store has been named by Time Magazine and The Grammys as one of the top ten legendary stores remaining in the United States. Still thriving on Hillsborough Street at our original first location across from NC State University.
2. What got you into the independent record store business?
in 1990 I was hired at Schoolkids while attending NC State University. I begged them for two years to hire me before I got a job. I shopped here in high school in the 80s (drove over an hour to come here) left in 2002 to work for Redeye Distribution/Yep Roc Records for 7 years and then started my own label (Second Motion Records) and magazine (Blurt) four years ago. I recently bought the store that I started at so now I’m the owner and I run the label and mag out of the store.
3. Who are some of your favorite contemporary stores?
Amoeba Music (LA, Berkeley and SF), Music Millennium (Portland), Criminal Records (Atlanta), Easy Street Records (Seattle), Waterloo Records (Austin), Crooked Beat Records (DC). Flat Black and Circular (East Lansing, MI)
4. How have things been going from a business perspective?
Great, we are seeing growth for the first time in years, 40% growth in Vinyl and RSD this year was the best day we have ever had in 39 years. amazing. So we feel good about the future.
5. What do you think spells the survival for an independent record store today?
Diversity, customer service, being the culture center and the center of a culture.
6. What are some of the coolest thing labels have done with you? Instores? Promotions? Sales?
We love doing instores, we get loads of giveaways from tickets, to autographed lithographs whatever, it all helps fans love it.
7. Why do we need record stores?
You cannot repeat the experience of a record store anywhere else, they are the culture center for music, trading ideas, songs, thoughts and often therapy.
8. What kind of taco is your favorite?
Bean and cheese
9. Who are your top 3 favorite bands right now?
The Shins, Lost In The Trees, Dexter Romweber Duo
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…”
11. What are your goals for the future of your store? Long term and short.
Continue to fight and survive, we would love to have more here, such as more instores and evening shows and a coffee shop. More things to hang out and share with the community.