On June 1st of 1978 Apple Computers had just turned two years old and the first iPod was not even a thought yet. It would be another twenty –three years before Steve Jobs would introduce his modernized walkman to the world. Of more significance to this date is that it was on this day, thirty-five years ago that Everybody’s Records put down the needle and opened the door of their shop for the first time. Thus was the beginning of an independent and eclectic gathering spot for music lovers and collectors in the Cincinnati area. Not much has changed in the past thirty-five years… okay, that’s not exactly true. Let’s take a look at the history and legacy of this historic Cincinnati staple.
When store owner Marilyn Kirby first opened the store, it was about the size of the first two rows of thestore today. The store specialized in buying and selling used records, and had a couple of video games and a couch in the back to supplement its income. It was not for another ten years that the store would expand to half of its current size, and then another two years until it grew into its current space. Over those years, the store introduced cassette tapes to its inventory, as well as a small amount of eight-track tapes. Then in 1985-86, CDs would be sold at the store for the first time. Today the store offers CD’s, cassettes, DVD’s, Blu-rays, band posters, t-shirts, magazines, books and the item that has been sold at the store since the first day…vinyl. When asked if there was ever a time when vinyl was not sold at Everybody’s Records, store manager Patrick Dorsey (known more affectionately to most customers as Woody) states, “when vinyl started to slow down nationally, we expanded for it.”
With big chains like Circuit City, Sam Goody, and FYE disappearing over the years, and with Best Buy having one foot in the grave, how has Everybody’s Records managed to thrive for over thirty-five years? Woody is able to answer that question with “Selection and the service we provide. Guys like Michael who know what to get in and what people are looking for… 100% effort on the employee’s part.” Woody is referring to Michael Shuter who has worked at Everybody’s for approximately ten years. Shuter has his own opinions on the store’s longevity, “There is a vibe you don’t get at other stores. Over the years, the music has seeped into the walls of this place.” Michael knows a thing or two about record stores too. He recalls that his first part-time job was at a record store called “Smiling Ed’s” in Portsmouth, OH when he was seventeen years old. The now fifty-seven year old offers perhaps the most accurate description of the store when he refers to it as a comforting time capsule.
This is not to say that it has been all smooth sailing for the little store that could. Just last year there was a threat to the property where Everybody’s is located, along with the neighboring “The Gas Light Café.” The mega-drugstore chain, Walgreen’s wanted to buy the property and tear down the existing building to build a large store. To the joy of many, the threat was short lived and the two businesses were saved. When asked what caused the speedy rescue of Everybody’s Records, Dorsey provided multiple reasons. He explains that the fuss that the customers raised, as well as a social media campaign spearheaded by the Gas Light were key to shutting down Walgreen’s bid to buy the property. He gives much credit to the Pleasant Ridge City Counsel and its residents. One of those residents just happens to be the building owner, who Woody feels has a soft spot for the store. Woody also explains that Alex Peppers of the Cincinnati planning Commission put in a lot of time behind the scenes, and was instrumental in the store’s survival. Shortly after the threat was raised, Everybody’s Records signed a three year extension on its lease.
Walgreen’s was not the only foe that the store has had to conquer to survive all of these years. With many people now turning to iTunes and Amazon to download their music, and some choosing to steal music all together through music “sharing” sites, the independent record store has taken quite a hit. When asked how the digital age in which we are living has affected the store, Woody says “I think we’ve gone as low as we’re going to go. You don’t see a lot of the young ones coming into to pick up stuff on CD’s, they are coming in for vinyl now.” It is worth noting that the store has recently moved its “new vinyl” section to the front of the shop to make room for the ever growing used records located in the side annex of the store. What does that say about the highly debated argument that the vinyl format is making a comeback? Dorsey states that he believes that it is. “We keep seeing young people, more and more young people buying it. So I would side with the people saying that it is probably going to stay around.” Michael Shuter agrees. He says that it is not uncommon to see parents coming into the store with their kids to look through the inventory of vinyl. He also has noticed that one of the biggest bridges between the two generations are the Beatles. Shuter also explains that more and more record pressing companies are starting to operate again after sitting dormant for decades, one of which is the QCA (Queen City album)Record Pressing Company located right here in Cincinnati. This is a good sign for vinyl collectors everywhere. The only possible issue that Woody can see in the comeback of the vinyl format is the record companies themselves. As long as they keep the prices reasonable, people will keep buying them he says. However, he has noticed that companies have been using things like double albums and 180 gram pressing to charge higher prices, all of which he feels is not necessary.
While it sounds like vinyl records are here to stay, the same may not be said for the compact disc format. Woody states that it is the twenty-nine year olds and up that still come into the store looking to purchase CD’s. So, will there ever be a day where CD’s will not be sold at Everybody’s Records? Dorsey says ““Not as long as I’m here. People like actually having the physical product in their hand. They don’t want to hold up their iPod and say this is my music collection.”
So there it is, Everybody’s Records in words. If you really want to discover this store, go there and check it out for yourself. You will find that they have something there for music lovers of all ages. Perhaps you are thirteen years old and curious about the whole “record thing”, or maybe you are in your forties and were just holding on to your record albums as a way of holding on to your past, Everybody’s Records is for you!!! If you don’t know where to start, Woody has a few suggestions for you. First, he suggests that you write down a list of your favorite albums of all time and start there. He then says to dig through bargain bins and you will find a lot of common classic rock that will help you build your collection. Everybody’s has a large selection of vinyl in the .99 bins. Most importantly, he urges patience. “Don’t go on eBay and buy something for $400 that eventually turns up cheaper.” Finally he says that if there is new stuff and you like it, you’re usually going to get a digital download, so go ahead and buy the record. But if nothing else, use the staff at Everybody’s. They are all really good guys who never mind answering questions and helping customers. There is no snobby, nose in the air attitude there. After a few visits you will find yourself calling them by name and just talking music. That is something that Apple and iTunes will never be able to offer.
6106 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 4521