We here at Light in the Attic are head over heels in love with the independent music retailers we do business with. Record stores are the bread and butter of our business, and their enthusiasm to bring in the cool record titles we stand behind makes us proud. Every week, we want to spotlight a cool independent record store that’s doing great things for the record biz, as well as the local community they represent and who supports them.
This week’s Record Store of the Week belongs to Avalon Music in Bellingham, WA. We asked Avalon manager Chris Lamb a few questions.
My name is Chris Lamb and am 31 yrs old. I have worked at Avalon since 1999 and have been primary manager since 2005. Believe it or not, my first musical love was my first batch of cassettes when I was in elementary school: MC Hammer, Young MC, and the C&C Music Factory. Do you see? Now I’m into freaky noise avant garde and acid folk (and acid).
How long has Avalon been open?
Avalon became an independent entity when the original owner bought it from Budget Tapes and Records in 1986. Same guy still owns it, but I run it. This be our only location.
How long have you been involved with record retail?
I started working in record stores when I was 15. My first shop was Off the Record in Yakima, WA. A surprisingly huge and vibrant store for the east side. I also worked at Dave’s Records during my one year Chicago experiment. Dave is the guru on top of the mountain. He taught me all there is to know about slinging LPs.
About how many LP titles do you carry in the store (new and used)?
Avalon stocks over 800 new LPs from various labels, distros, and one stops. We have over a thousand used titles in all genres
What kinda people frequent the store?
We get the whole spectrum of shoppers-indy kids, old collector guys, college students, locals, and a fair amount of our frosty friends from the north.
Do you get a lot of Canadians coming to Bellingham for music?
Oh yeah sure you betcha’ eh?
What’s your biggest pet peeve about record collectors?
My biggest peeve is when a dude looks at a used LP that’s in a plastic sleeve. He takes it out and then can’t figure out how to put it back like he found it. The worst is when they put the sleeves back on upside down. It ain’t a fucking tea cozy!
What is the coolest record that has ever come through your doors? You know, that holy grail record that you never thought you’d see.
Some of the Holy Grail records that have come thru never to be seen by anyone but me again-Robbie Basho-Bashovia, French pressing of Francois Hardy’s greatest hits, and More Moondog (!). For the most part though I sell what comes in. I have more than a lifetime of music at home and don’t really need too much more. That might be a total lie. I do pride myself on our affordability on the used gems. I don’t ebay. I price things for my local market, which can lead to some screamin’ deals. Right now I’m sitting on some clutch Zappa titles, some great old Blue Note stuff, and some killer old dub.
Have you ever seen a grown man weep over a record he discovered in your store?
I brought a tear to my buddy’s eye when I sold him John Hartford’s Aero-Plane LP for his momma for only 20 bucks.
Lastly, what’s your favorite part about running a cool independent record shop?
My favorite part of this job is being the boss of myself. That and the best possible exposure to the new music and the people that love it. I interned at Drag City years back and all I got exposed to is Drag City stuff. My biggest boner comes from turning someone on to amazing new tunes that they would never have found otherwise. Internet music has dropped the filter so to speak. Everyone is exposed to everything all at once. There is a vital need for the chosen few to curate the goods and slice away the schlock for the masses. !Viva el record store guy!
1330 Railroad Ave
Bellingham, WA 98225