What’s it Like to Run an Independent Record Shop in 2016?

September 14, 2016
KRCC's record collection.KRCC's record collection. Jake Brownell / KRCC
KRCC's record collection.

It's no secret that record stores have struggled to survive in the digital age. In the last decade, we've seen music retail giants like Tower Records and Sam Goody file for bankruptcy and watched as the internet has rendered CDs virtually obsolete. For those running record stores, there has been a lot to adjust to. 

Independent Records Logo
Independent Records Logo

"It's not like when we used to have the masses come in," says Judy Negley, co-owner of Independent Records, which operates three record shops in Colorado Springs. Negley has been working at Independent Records since 1981, and has been a co-owner since 1983. "We would do an in-store and we would have 1500 people out there, people would line up for a new release--it's way different now, and people have a lot of choices."

And yet, the prognosis for record shops may not be as grim as it seems. Amid the internet-driven transformation of the music retail business over the last decade, another surprising trend has taken shape. Sales of vinyl records have surged, reaching levels in 2015 not seen since the 1980s. While record shops may no longer be the only place a music lover can go to pick up a copy of their favorite band's new album, people are still finding reasons to spend money on music in brick-and-mortar record stores. 

"The true collectors are still going to record stores, still going to thrift stores for that matter, still going anywhere they can to find stuff," says Negley. 

Negley recently shared her thoughts on the past, present and future of the music retail business with KRCC. She and Shawn Mayo--manager of Independent Records' Platte Avenue store--sat down for an interview for this month's episode of Air Check, KRCC's show about great music in the Pikes Peak Region and beyond. In the interview, Negley and Mayo tell us why they were drawn to record stores in the first place and weigh in on the question of whether record stores will remain relevant as we press ever further into the digital age.

Listen to the conversation in the player above.