For the Record: All That Music

By Peter Lindblad

A television journalist gives up a career in broadcasting to open a record store that thrives on its diversity

ALL THAT MUSIC is located in El Paso, Texas. Photos courtesy of All That Music
ALL THAT MUSIC is located in El Paso, Texas. Photos courtesy of All That Music

All That Music, El Paso, Texas

What do you specialize in?

George Reynoso:
In general, we stock all the recognized chart artists from the last 60 years, that is: classic rock, country, vocalists, jazz, world, hip-hop, DJ, dance and electronica, indie-modern, hard rock and metal. Our particular strength is in oldies and oldie compilations on CD from the 1940s through the present. Because of our geographic location on the border, we also stock the region’s best Spanish-language music department. That area is categorized by rock-en-español, baladas, nostalgia, tejano, norteño, banda, tropical, and ranchera.

What was your first job?

I was the neighborhood lawn boy from [age] 10 to 14. When I was 15, I got a job sanding and prepping cabinets for painting at a local kitchen-cabinet shop. Those two jobs, combined with the discipline and values given to me by my parents, instilled in me the work ethic that’s allowed me to succeed in almost every entrepreneurial project I’ve undertaken.

What was the first record you ever bought?

GR: I don’t remember exactly, but it must have been one of these three 45 RPM records from 1964-1965: Ronny & The Daytonas’ “Little GTO,” Petula Clark’s “Downtown” or Del Shannon’s “Keep Searchin’.”

When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?

I was a successful radio DJ and television reporter by the time I was 21. Somehow, I was always able to talk management into allowing me to produce stories on pop culture or host oldies shows on Sunday nights, so in the ’70s I became known as the local music guy. By the time I was 26, I became disillusioned with the prospects for a future in the broadcast business, so owning a music store seemed logical. People were always coming up to me and asking me, “Where can I get that song?”

Has the neighborhood where your store is located changed?

I started the store as Nostalgia Records with 700 square feet in a small strip center in 1980. By 1987, I increased our square footage to 3,000 square feet on the city’s east side. In 1994, I changed our name to All That Music to counter the perception that we were the store with all the old stuff. In 1998, we moved to a new 5,700-square-foot location up the street, and in 2007, I adapted our name to All That Music & Video. It’s 2010 now, so I’m considering a restructuring and relocation that reflects the changes in our industry. Stay tuned! We’re excited about our new reincarnation.

How has the music retail market changed over the years?

In 1980, I stocked primarily LPs. By 1983, it was LPs and cassettes. We were stocking LPs, cassettes and CDs in 1990. As LPs and cassettes disappeared in the ’90s, new and used CDs and DVDs became our primary inventory. The future music store will be all about service and collectibles for serious music enthusiasts. The impulse or casual-buyer market has slowly eroded in the last 10 years and will continue to do so. Local operators like ourselves know the nuances of the market and survive by knowing and stocking the regional and local favorites.

Have you noticed resurgence in vinyl record sales?

Absolutely! In 1999, I remember we did a “Goodbye to LPs” promotion. Basically, we cleared out all LPs for cheap. Fast forward 10 years and LPs are now a growing part of our business model. However, we never quit buying and selling LPs. Over the years, we removed LPs from the sales floor but built a hefty collection of nearly 10,000 quality collectible LPs that were sold mainly on the Internet. We’re now reconfiguring the store to accommodate our deep catalog of LPs on the sales floor.

What was the biggest day the store ever had?

GR: Our biggest day was probably in 1995 with the posthumous release of Selena’s Dreaming of You CD. I did a press release for a midnight on-sale. We had all three major TV affiliates broadcast their 10 p.m. newscasts from our parking lot, which was attended by an estimated 5,000 people. We sold nearly 3,000 units of the CD that night.

Ever had anybody famous come in and shop at your store?

Sherman Hemsley, a.k.a. George Jefferson from the “The Jeffersons” ’70s and ’80s sitcom, is a regular customer. We have handled many of his special orders and media transfers. By the way, this is another growing revenue stream for us. We transfer LPs, cassettes and VHS to CD-R and DVD-R at an affordable price. We aren’t presently advertising the service, but not one day passes that another media-transfer project lands on our lap.

What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store?

GR: In 30 years, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering three variations of the famous Beatles “Butcher Cover” LP. I presently have one on display in our collectors’ showcase.

Do you collect anything else besides records?

GR: I collect old gadgets, memorabilia, paper, and especially old radios, clocks, postcards, posters, photos and documents. I’m fascinated and intrigued by the process and evolution of mankind, technology and pop culture in general. To acquire a well-preserved object from the past is to own a part of history and the evolutionary process.

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