Redscroll Records began as a record label, then evolved into a record shop in Wallingford, Conn. Owners Joshua Carlson and Rick Sinkiewicz share the history of their store.
Store Name: Redscroll Records
Address: 24 N. Colony Road, Wallingford, CT 04692
Q: What was your first job?
Joshua Carlson: Paperboy.
Rick Sinkiewicz: Stockboy. We were boys.
Q: What was the first record you ever bought?
RS: The first piece of recorded music I ever bought with my own money was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on cassette, and I’d play it in my Fisher Price portable cassette player. I remember walking around my grandparents’ house specifically and my grandmother saying she liked it and that it reminded her of “The Monster Mash.”
JC: I have no idea what the first record I ever bought was. Truthfully.
Q: When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?
JC: 1998! I wanted to be a spaceman in 1991, but that idea didn’t really pan out no matter how many sci-fi movies I watch.
RS: Josh asked me to open a shop with him in 2006 — it might have been a flight of fancy in my mind before, but that’s the first time I seriously considered it.
Q: What is the history of your store?
RS: Redscroll Records started as a label to put out a few friends’ releases. That turned into a small distro that went show to show (punk and hardcore around Connecticut mostly). About 6 years ago, that distro got to be too much to handle, so Josh asked me to open a store with him. We’ve now been open as a physical shop since April 12, 2007, and we’ve been doing nothing but growing (to the point of being a bit over-full).
Q: What do you specialize in?
RS: We focus on “Underground Music & Culture” (that’s what our sign says), with a heavy slant toward the vinyl record format. We do carry a lot of things that might not be (and many that definitely wouldn’t be) considered “underground,” and we also carry compact discs and assorted ephemera (DVDs, T-shirts, books, posters, turntables, record care accessories…). Used and new. Y’ know – a record store.
Q: How has the music retail market changed over the years?
RS: We’re a young store of almost 5 years, so we’ve only experienced growth. I’m sure had we been in this business for a couple more decades we could give more insight on the changes, but, alas, we have only positive growth to speak of.
Q: Have you noticed resurgence in vinyl-record sales?
RS: Five years ago we sold less, but then again, we sold less of most everything then. If anything, we’ve noticed less CD sales.
Q: What does your store offer that few, if any others, do?
RS: We offer our individual perspectives. I think that’s really the best thing a record store owner can do. We play to our strengths, and it is reflected in how the store looks, operates and the stock that we carry.
Q: What changes has the store gone through over the years?
RS: Again, we’ve only been open 5 years, so expansion is really the thing that’s changed.
Q: Who are some of your favorite customers from over the years, and why?
Q: What was the biggest day the store ever had?
RS: Summer equinox is a pretty long day. Most sunlight and all. HUGE SUN! It’s funny and probably a bit sentimental/corny, but we really don’t view the success of the store in any kind of money terms, so really the biggest milestone so far has been the day we opened our doors.
Q: Ever had anybody famous come in and shop at your store?
RS: Probably. Maybe. I don’t know.
Q: What is the future of record stores like yours?
RS: “Spaceshipbattlelove” is the name of Guitar Wolf’s latest, and I think it’s also the answer to this question. We’re aiming for the stars, and so should all the others.
Q: What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store?
RS: We deal in underground and hard-to-find records all the time, so a lot of times, what we get in is stuff limited to as little as 10 copies, but very often to 100 or 50 or thereabouts. There are too many in that category to mention, really.
Q: What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
RS: Requests for specific old cassettes tapes are pretty odd and happen from time to time. Sometimes, we can actually follow through with it!
Q: What advice do you have for people who want to own a record store?
RS: I’m going to tackle this from two angles. First of all, know your market, same as any business, I suppose. The music-buying market is transforming drastically, and digital sales are an increasing force. We don’t deal in digital. We deal in physical, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not affected by the other. The Internet doesn’t keep us from trading physical formats on it — it encourages it, in fact (eBay, Amazon, Discogs, Gemm, DeadFormat, Recordnerd. We don’t use all of these sites; I’m just listing a bunch). That works hand in hand with the people who walk through our doors on a day-to-day basis. You’ve got to roll with the punches. If a record is selling on the Internet for $30 and you’ve got it on the wall for $75, that’s not a $75 record anymore. If you’ve had the same selection of CDs for 3 years and they aren’t moving, it’s time to trade them for something that will. Cut your losses on things you’ve been sitting on.
Angle 2: Play on your strengths. We love music. We listen to it a lot and to a lot of it. We don’t listen to everything. Nobody does, no matter how many people espouse to. I hold only surface knowledge of calliope music, for instance. We’ve stopped buying old 45s because we just don’t know that much about them. We carry a ton of more modern (’60s and up — but generally even more modern than that) 7-inches, but I’m not going to risk spending money on a collection of doo-wop that could theoretically hold a golden ticket because I just don’t know much about it. On the other side of that coin, I grew up listening to tons of college radio (mostly the Wesleyan University station WESU) which opened me up to lots weird avenues that aren’t all related. Josh and I met in the punk/hardcore community and he has a wealth of knowledge within that. There’s crossover between our two tastes of course and we don’t confine the store to just what we like, but it is reflected. We know some stuff, but not nearly everything of course. We play to our strengths. I honestly think there’s plenty of room for every great store (that “great” part is the big caveat; we’re not humble about that either, we’re great) in the local and global market as long as we all play to our individual strengths.