By Peter Lindblad
Since opening in 1981, Yesterday & Today Records has occupied multiple locations serving different markets.
What do you specialize in?
Evan Chern: ’60s and ’70s rock, particularly garage, psychedelic and progressive music. But we carry all sorts of genres including Latin, jazz, blues, soul, etc.
What was your first job?
EC: I worked for Oscar Meyer.
What was the first record you ever bought?
EC: One of the first that comes to mind was Jefferson Airplane’s Bathing At Baxters.
What is the history of your store?
EC: Yesterday & Today Records was opened in 1981 by Richard Ulloa on Bird Road in Miami. The shop relocated a few times over the years in Miami — now it’s on SW 40th Street. There was also a dance and techno shop in Miami Beach and an oldies shop, as well as a Yesterday & Today Records in Gainesville, Fla., for a short time.
When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?
EC: The original owner was a friend I knew through junior high and high school. I remember helping him the first day he opened, back in 1981, and was always a customer of the store. Later we became partners in the oldies location and soon I took over the shop.
I produced and hosted the show “Notes from the Underground” on a local radio station for close to 15 years. I played a deep variety of period and non-commercial music and was encouraged and influenced by my audience.
Has the neighborhood where your store is located changed?
EC: The local bowling alley and pizza shop have remained over the years. I have seen a number of businesses open and close over the last nine years at the store’s present location. Recently a tobacco/head shop opened next door, which has helped sales. With an adult boutique having opened a few stores down, we joke that now one has access to sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll all in the same block!
How has the music retail market changed over the years?
EC: With the advent of the Internet, there have been both positive and negative changes. Downloading music and online sales and auctions have had an effect on the mom-and-pop/independent record stores. On the other hand, more customers have found us using search engines. We’ve also found that the wealth of information online has educated both young and old music lovers to purchase some of the more obscure artists that we carry.
Have you noticed a resurgence in vinyl record sales?
What does your store offer that few, if any, others do? What changes has the store gone through over the years?
EC: We try to be people-friendly and are pretty well-versed in the music that we specialize in. We specialize more in music through the ’80s, rather than present-day artists which the shop carried in the past.
Who are some of your favorite customers from over the years and why?
EC: It’s nice to hear from customers who grew up buying music from our shop that eventually had some effect on their lives, occupations, etc.
What was the biggest day the store ever had?
EC: Celebrating the first Record Store Day was quite good.
Ever had anybody famous come in and shop at your store? Back in the day when we had in-store performances and record/CD signings there were numerous local (some later became famous) and popular bands, including The Ramones, that have been to the shop. Matt Dillon is into some cool music.
What is the future of record stores like yours? Hopefully people will support their local independent record shops, so there will be a future.
What’s the best part about being the owner of a record store and what’s the worst? The best is turning people on to artists they might have never discovered or finding a recording that they’ve been looking for, for years. The worst? Apologizing for not having enough room.
What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store? I’m sure the shop has seen some rare recordings over the years. Since I took over, two favorite garage/psych albums that are relatively rare were original pressings of The Rising Storm’s Calm Before … (signed) and Christopher’s What’cha Gonna Do?
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer? Lots of strange requests. One that comes to mind was a Tarzan song/Superman song children’s picture-sleeve 45 that we actually had in stock.
Do you collect anything else besides records? I’ve liked science-fiction author Phillip K. Dick since I was a kid.
What advice would you have for people who want to own a record store? Research the location, have a lot of initial inventory and patience.
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