Turntables & Trails
Owner: Spencer Carson
Started in: September 2016.
This is what I love: I spent several years in Portland working at a store called Next Adventure, I ran their used department. I’ve done a large portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, my wife did the entire trail. And the audio gear is so fun. Getting to find unique pieces, quirky stuff. I’ve got a fair amount of vinyl at home and too many speakers.
A good Northwest blend: think of all your friends, neighbors, coworkers. How many of them are into the outdoors: they go hiking, they go kayaking, they go biking. How many of them are also into music? It’s a huge scene up here we have so many outdoor companies that were born here and we also have a bunch of musicians and audio companies that started in Seattle.
Because of the weird mix: I get to interact with first timers in both categories because there is a low barrier of entry. If you buy your first car, you don’t walk into a Lamborghini store, not only is it high priced, but they expect you to know where you are coming from. People can come in here and don’t need to know anything because this is an environment where you can ask questions.
Mostly I’m a one man show: I do the website, marketing, storefront, repairs, inventory, everything. I do have three part time employees who fill in, they were all customers who now love to help out around the store.
I found this spot: When I used to find inventory at thrift stores I’d hit the Value Village and swing down 8th to hit the Goodwill. Every time, I’d go by and you’d see JRA and notice the bikes. One day there was a sign that said “for rent” and I looked into it and it was reasonable and the landlords are incredible.
I get asked the most for: punk and grunge records. There is almost zero quantity because a lot of that stuff came out in the late 80’s and early 90’s when tapes were about 100 times cheaper to make.
Vinyl is pretty funny: because 100% the stereotypes of who listens to which music and how they treat things shows. You pull out vinyl and if it is classical, nine times out of 10 it is pristine. If you pull out your metal, or your punk or grunge, there’s scratches all over it and it’s … grungey.
I also have other things: Lego, Pokemon, and video games. When I opened, I didn’t have enough stuff. I was selling them online I thought I would try to sell in store and the kids loved it. There was a karate studio next door (they have moved to a location on 15th) and kids would come over while their brother or sister was in class and dig through the Lego and Pokemon cards.
The hardest part of starting a business: was deciding to do it. Part two of that was figuring out the permits from the state and county. You can’t be afraid of that and you just have to make the first step.
One of the biggest positives of covid: is seeing how many people realize that supporting local shops will help the stores they love to survive. Who we support, our money directly is affecting one business or another. If you spend your $5 or $10 with a company that is local, you can see that at work. It’s been cool having people realize that, and email about it. Asking if I’m ok, if I’m surviving, if they can come get a gift card from me. We all have to help each other.
The food truck that will get me out the door and up the block to Chuck’s: is Gourmini’s Sandwiches. I like all their stuff!
I read High Fidelity: without realizing it. When I go to the thrift store, I buy any Kindle with books on it, then transfer it to my kindle. So, I just read what is next.
Favorite Urban Hike: Hamlin Park – if you haven’t been, it’s always empty, has massive amounts of trails, and you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a very cool park for how close it is. Whether it’s Carkeek or Golden Gardens or going down to Discovery, there’s just a million little parks that are awesome. I tell customers when they come in to buy backpacking gear, that they should load it up and get out in a local park just to test it.
The only place where: you can trade one and get the other. Bring me a bunch of vinyl and leave with a rain jacket.