In The Moment Records started as a family affair. Now Byron Greatorex is the Brattleboro, Vt., store’s sole proprietor.
What do you specialize in?
Byron Greatorex: The store is primarily stocked with vinyl LPs, 45s and 78s. While rock and jazz are the best sellers, I try and have a decent representation of most all genres.
Other than being pretty much all vinyl I try and cover all the bases. We carry more rock and jazz than anything else but have a decent representation of most all genres.
What was your first job?
BG: I did some kitchen work and a bit of construction as a teenager.
What was the first record you ever bought?
BG: Metallica’s Kill ’Em All.
What is the history of your store?
BG: It was started it about four and a half years ago. My father had owned a music store in Camden, Maine, for a number of years called Wild Rufus — CDs primarily but a few LPs. He sold that a while back and got the idea to do a store that was primarily vinyl.
I was living in Connecticut at the time and had some cash from the sale of a property and was looking to get out of the job I had been doing. My sister was going to school a little bit outside of Brattleboro, so we all met up there. The store was originally a partnership consisting of myself, my father and my stepmother. Recently I purchased the store and am sole proprietor.
Have you noticed a resurgence in vinyl record sales? Definitely. The fact that I can successfully run a store that primarily just sells vinyl records in a small town in Vermont says it all. Even the big guys are taking notice. Best Buy sells records these days.
What does your store offer that few, if any, others do? Tough to say — customers have told me that the store is much more well-organized than most. I clean and visually grade each LP. All LPs are placed in protective plastic sleeves. Everything is alphabetized.
New arrivals hit the shelves most every day. I try and represent almost every genre and record format.
What changes has the store gone through over the years? The biggest have been the change from a partnership to sole proprietor and the continued shift away from CD sales. I’m currently trying to sell off my remaining CD stock and go strictly vinyl.
Who are some of your favorite customers from over the years and why? Oh, there’s quite a number. The hardcore collectors are the best. They just can’t get enough! There’s one guy who manages to buy at least $100 worth of stuff just out of my window. He’ll sometimes do this twice a week. He’s afraid to actually start going through the bins.
Ever had anybody famous come in and shop at your store? J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. comes through from time to time. His new band Witch did a photo shoot here. Terry Adams and some of the other guys from NRBQstop in every now and then. Whoopi Goldberg stopped in once, as well.
What is the future of record stores like yours? Tough to say. I have every intention of making this the one of the best places to shop for vinyl on the East Coast. Maybe some day open up a few more. So far I’ve enjoyed success, but there are others who haven’t had it as good.
Dynamite Records in Northampton just closed its doors after being in business for something like 30 years. You really gotta hustle if you want to make a living doing this, but I think there is still quite an interest amongst music fans to be able to have a place to go and dig through the bins and talk music. Hopefully that will continue.
What’s the best part about being the owner of a record store and what’s the worst? The best is the records themselves. I’m a record nut. (No worries though — I don’t get high on my own supply; I don’t take the good stuff home.) I like nothing more than digging through a new collection to see what’s in there or researching an LP that I’ve never seen before. I mean, I get to listen to all sorts of music eight or nine hours a day!
What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store? I’ve seen a lot of very rare records — pressings of 100 or less in some instances. Some of the more collectible LPs have been a legit copy of Lennon’s Roots album, a Beatles Butcher (was bought from a junk shop for $2 where the owner told us we shouldn’t bother going through the LPs ’cause he was a major collector and had already taken home all the good stuff) and some pretty rare Boston late ’70s post-punk and power-pop 7-inches amongst a number of rare jazz and psych titles.
But probably the absolutely rarest stuff was a collection of test pressing 78s and acetates purchased from a woman whose father was a recording engineer for Decca for 40 or so years. [I] had no idea what any of it was until we started going through it. Most of it just had blank labels with matrixs numbers written on them. There was this DJ promo 78 of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday where Louis drops an f-bomb (no joke) and all sorts of test pressings of rare calypso — a lot of that stuff never made it to stock copies, I don’t think. Those test pressings could have been the only surviving recordings.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer? I have this woman that is some sort of dominatrix, and she looks for German marches of the Nazi era.
Do you collect anything else besides records? Oh God, no! I wouldn’t have room.
What advice would you have for people who want to own a record store? You gotta love it. If you’re not into vinyl or a music nut, this isn’t the job for you. If you do decide to open a record store, be sure to take some time with your customers. Talk to them about their collections — record collectors love to talk about what they’ve got and major scores they’ve had throughout the years. Find out what they like and try your hardest to find it. Don’t disregard any genre — you’ll be surprised what some people are into. And most important — always have something new for your customers to look at — don’t ever become stale.
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