Explore Discology, a record shop with something for everyone

Discology record store logo

Discology is located at 11 N. Sierra St., No. 100, in Reno, Nev. Visit Discology on the web at www.discologyreno.com or www.discology.ecrater.com, or call the shop at 775-323-2121.

Discology  has been in business since 2006 and carries everything from rock ’n’ roll and classical music to movie and music memorabilia. The shop specializes in finding hard-to-find items. This includes new and used  CDs, LPs, DVDs and memorabilia. Shop services include transferring customers’ vinyl and cassettes to CDs. Staffers will even polish your collection for you. And, though Discology has a solid Web site and online store at www.discology.ecrater.com, its heart and soul is a brick and mortar store. Be sure to check out the shop in person.

David Calkins of Discology

Discology's David Calkins. The Reno, Nev., shop has been in business since 2006.

What was your first job?
I was a paper boy with my brother when I was a pre-teen. Generating my own “disposable” income was nice since I was always looking to finance the purchase of one prized collectible or another. That job taught me the equation between giving exceptional customer service and earning more income (tips in this case).

What was the first record you ever bought?
I believe it was a Police 7-inch/45: “Every Breath You Take” with “Murder by Numbers” on the B-side. From then on, I realized the value of non-album tracks and began collecting singles. I learned to prize the ones that had better B- than A-sides.

When did the idea of owning your own record store first occur to you?
It was back in the mid-’90s. And for that, I credit my best friend, Mike, who was from Seattle. He suggested the idea when we were working together at Tower Records here in Reno. Until then, it had never even occurred to me as a possibility. Music, back then, was still a hobby. I was primarily focused on finishing my degree in Anthropology and Art History.
What is the history of your store?

After many years of planning and saving, I finally opened in November 2006. It was just two days before Thanksgiving — about a month before the local Tower store would close.

What do you specialize in?
I actually carry a little bit of everything — from rock to classical to movie scores. I’ve always maintained that Discology is “everybody’s music store.” In the spirit of variety, I even recently took in an extensive consignment of highly collectible rock concert posters and postcards. (Think LSD and the infamously loud psychedelic ballrooms of San Francisco in the mid-’60s and early ’70s.) It’s a truly amazing collection with lots of rare and autographed pieces. I’ve even got a 1964 Beatles tour book in the collection. Most of it is on my online store: www.discology.ecrater.com. See “Ephemera.”

(Wonder what your records are worth? Find out now!)

How has the music retail market changed over the years?
As we all know, the majority of folks are now buying online for digital as well as physical formats. Consequently, it’s been an uphill battle with the unfortunate closures of thousands of stores. My biggest “epiphany” has been simple (but humbling): Being one of the two remaining music stores in town does not necessarily guarantee swift business.

Have you noticed resurgence in vinyl-record sales?
Definitely! At the risk of sounding “like a broken record,” let’s just say that selling new-release vinyl has been a saving grace. I opened believing I was going to be selling primarily CDs. But, I’ve since expanded that “model” to include “anything that’s flat and round.” That, of course, includes DVDs as well as LPs.

Discology in Nevada

Discology's brick-and-mortar store is located at 11 N. Sierra St., No. 100, in Reno, Nev.

What does your store offer that few, if any, others do?
Besides offering a great psychedelic rock art collection, I also offer (at very reasonable rates) other unique services: Transferring LPs and cassettes to CD; in-house CD and DVD polishing, etc. My most significant personal offering is being able (and more than willing) to go (way) out of my way to find you that otherwise very “hard-to-find” special item. This is particularly true when a customer doesn’t have all the information about the release — often nothing more than just a bit of lyric. Therefore, the store is called Discology (as in “the study of discs”).

What changes has the store gone through over the years?
Among other things: locations. In October 2009, I relocated to the downtown (Riverwalk) area of Reno to more conveniently serve local music lovers. I’ve also refined the layout of the store through the years to showcase more vinyl.

Who are some of your favorite customers from over the years, and why?
My favorite customers aren’t necessarily just the ones who patronize often. They also include those capable of having well-informed, lengthy and detailed discussions about music. I’ve always enjoyed having the ability to talk endlessly about music. I continue to learn more about obscure artists and sub-genres from my customers.

What was the biggest day the store ever had?
My very first day! It was, by far, the biggest to date. Record Store Day 2010 came close. It was especially memorable in that people came in specifically to buy LPs and not just to buy one of the limited-edition RSD releases.

Ever had anybody famous come in and shop at your store?
I recently had the guitarist and bass player from Amberlin in the store, and Rocky Votolato played in my store a few years ago.

What is the future of record stores like yours?
I truly believe that as long as people want a physical copy of a title, be it on record or CD, stores like Discology will be able to maintain their standing in their communities. It’s important for folks to have a place to go to, a place to browse and to buy, and, especially, a place where they can learn about music other than what they’re already listening to.

What’s the rarest record you’ve ever had in your store?
I recently sold a nice copy of The Yardbirds’ “Live Yardbirds” (featuring Jimmy Page). However, the most beautiful record would have been a toss-up between two recently out-of-print boxed sets: Sigur Ros’ “In a Frozen Sea” and Thrice’s “The Alchemy Index.”

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
Are you a back doctor?

What advice would you have for people who want to own a record store?
Give your customers a choice. Give them the best customer service you can. There aren’t enough record stores these days. So, the more there are, the more choices customers will have. “Big box” stores should not rule the market. After all, who wants to be told “You should be able to order that online”. Statements like that definitely don’t keep jobs or music stores around.

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