For the first time since 2004, Lakeland has two stores specializing in vinyl records, and they’re located within eight blocks of each other in the downtown area. While they emphasize slightly different niches, both were opened by entrepreneurs enthusiastic to share new and vintage music. Here’s a quick look at what to expect at both stores.
Name: The store is named for the owner’s paternal grandfather: “I wanted to pay tribute to a man who changed my life.”
Location: 308 E. Pine St.
Owner: Jesse Ellerbe, 24
Background: Jessi is a Lakeland native whose parents are both “huge music fans.” She was only 2 when they took her to her first concert: Toby Keith. As a child, she took up piano and flute, and she started collecting vinyl records during high school (Polk State Collegiate) when she visited Ernest Tubb Records in Nashville and bought a Mumford and Sons LP.
Store’s origins: Jessi started selling records at the Downtown Farmers Curb Market last July. “People always asked if there’s an actual store,” she said. Since her sales increased each time she was there, she sat down with her folks and together they decided a store made sense.
Why vinyl?: “The sound is just better on analog. You’re in physical contact with the music. It’s almost like a relationship. It’s truer to the art form.”
Vibe: Eclectic. While classic rock predominates, the store also carries 80s pop, jazz, show tunes, R&B, country and a few other genres.
Also: Jesse Carl sells used CDs for $1 to $4.
Prices: Used vinyl ranges from $1 to $45 for a UK pressing of The Beatles’ “Please Please Me.” New vinyl goes for $15 to $70.)
Decor: Unlike some record stores, the store is brightly lit and feels clean and new. Like many record stores, decorations on the wall include featured records and music posters.
Performance space: For occasional acoustic acts, the store opens an adjacent room that holds 20 to 35 people.
Typical customer: Middle age men and women who started collecting in their teens and are still looking for older vinyl. Her younger customers gravitate to newer titles, Jessi said.
Where will you be a year from now: Jesse Carl will be moving around the corner to the NoBay retail/residential complex on Bay Street when it opens, more than doubling the space to about 500 square feet.
THE WAX AND THE NEEDLE
Name: The name is inspired by a line in a song by The Gaslight Anthem, the group who inspired the name for building-mate Gaslight Tattoo Co.
Location: 509 S. Florida Ave.
Owner: Justin Sims, 35
Background: When Justin was 5 he started listening to his 15-year-old sister’s hair band records. He became a musician, playing guitar and singing in several local bands, including This Sinking Ship. Along the way, he played local teen venues and record stores: Mad Hatter, Woodpecker, Evolution
Store’s origins: As a tattoo artist, Justin thought it would be cool to own a record store in front of a tattoo shop. When he had the opportunity, he took it.
Why vinyl: “For me, it’s nostalgia. I grew up with vinyl. With digital, you no longer feel like you can hold the music in your hands. And there’s all this information on the covers.”
Vibe: The store specializes in classic rock (including lots of British Invasion) and punk. (“As a kid, that’s what we looked for.”)
Also: Punk-related T-shirts and pins, new and used turntables, a few used instruments.
Prices: 50 cents to $300 (for an unopened early pressing of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”)
Decor: “A 50s/60s style shop with a punk rock attitude,” including posters and stickers placed haphazardly on seafoam green walls. A few comfortable chairs invite shoppers to enjoy tunes and talk music.
Typical customer: While they range in age from teens to octogenarians looking for Patsy Cline and Elvis, the typical customer is guys in their 20s through 40s looking for rock from the 80s and 90s and punk.
A Year From Now: Justin would like more space, even though that might mean moving into another location. Ultimately, he’d like to open a record label.