COLUMBIA-Like a forgotten music library, dusty piles of about 300 boxes and plastic tubs filled with records stacked four high and three deep line the back walls of Happy Time Media on Ninth Street. Owner Mike Kindelspire bought the vinyl collection from the previous tenant, Whizz Records, and is renting the space with the hope of starting anew.
It’s a work in progress, but Kindelspire and manager Brandon Kramer said they plan to sort, price and catalog all of them. They admit it’s a daunting task.
“I’m a professional slacker,” Kramer said, laughing. “I work at a record store.”
In fact, the two friends have spent more than 100 hours cleaning and renovating the store at 20 S. Ninth St., which opened in May.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s the best job I have ever had,” Kindelspire said.
His intent is to bring back something special to Columbia: vinyl records. The plan is to have the largest collection of wax (that’s vinyl) in the city.
“It’s a spectacular medium,” Kindelspire said. It offers younger music fans the opportunity to discover music that has been lost to them because the albums haven’t been reproduced on CDs. For people who grew up with vinyl, it offers a sense of nostalgia. And for people who are serious music collectors, it offers all of the greatest music recorded.
The store will also offer CDs, video games, used record players and USB record players.
A USB record player is a turntable that can be plugged into a computer and download the LP onto the computer. It is a lot more complicated than it sounds because the record is downloaded as a continuous sound file and has to be chopped up manually. Kindelspire’s hope is to have one in the store that staff can use to back up customers’ record collections; the estimated cost is $1 per song.
Kindelspire and Kramer met at MU six years ago and often talked about starting a business together.
“It used to be kind of a joke, and after awhile, it became a possibility,” Kindelspire said.
When they heard Whizz Records was up for sale earlier this year, they jumped on the opportunity. The two were hesitant to open a record store that specializes in vinyl, and they contemplated it for three months before deciding to go forward.
“Once we came in here and started meeting with people, we thought we could keep it (going),” Kramer said.
As for the name, Happy Time Media was the first thing that came to them, and it stuck.
“It goes with the idea of having fun around music,” Kramer said.
Along with new management come changes to the store itself. The first thing Kindelspire and Kramer did was knock down the back drywall and extend the store by about 350 square feet. They plan to fill the space with floor-to-ceiling shelves to display their music library. The front of the store will feature cases displaying new releases on vinyl and CD. The store’s lively color scheme includes orange, red and yellow.
“The main goal for the next couple of months is inventory, developing the Web site and finding wholesalers,” Kindelspire said.
They are trying to get everything sorted and ready by the time MU starts in mid-August.
Both Kramer and Kindelspire are music fans: Kindelspire, 25, loves jazz and blues but acknowledges, “Classic rock is my baby.” Kramer, 28, favors these genres as well, but most of his music collection consists of artists from the late 1980s to mid-’90s. They are still open to new music and let customers pick the music that plays in the store.
They agree that one of the most exciting parts of working in their record store is the steady exposure to so many artists and music.
“It’s like Christmas every day,” Kindelspire said.
Sifting through all the boxes of records, they have found some pretty interesting things.
“I think the most interesting album has been the W.A.S.P. single in the shape of a pig,” Kramer said. With blood-red eyes, pointy bat-like ears and oversized drooling fangs, it looks like what would happen if a pig was bitten by Dracula. Other vinyl gems include Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica.”
“Most of the rare stuff was sitting in storage,” Kramer said. “So there are all kinds of goodies in there.”