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Mid-State Record Shop Defies Retail Trends

Photo by Kati Baird

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --   Can you remember the last time you were in a record store?  Chances are good it’s been a while.

Music retailing has been decimated in recent years by the advent of audio streaming and music piracy. So it came as something of a surprise to learn that a new record store opened recently here in Middle Tennessee.

Grant Polston and his wife Sandy are co-owners of Little Shop of Records, located just off the square in downtown Murfreesboro.

The Polston’s know they’re bucking the national trend away from brick-and-mortar music stores. Not one to mince words, Grant calls the move “a little bit nuts.”

“We’re not, by any stretch, what you would consider conservative with the way that we live our lives,” Grant said.  “So we’re gonna give it a shot.”

The Polston’s are taking their gamble with eyes wide open. Both have an extensive background  in retail.  Grant says at this point in their lives, he and his wife were looking for something more than just another job.

“Where would we produce the most passion? Where, when we go to work every day it would never be like going to work?  We both love music,” he said.

The Polstons sell music, both CDs and vinyl records, along with a wide assortment of other items, including hand-made jewelry.

“And incense of course,” Grant adds with a laugh. “Right? It’s mandatory to have incense in a record store.”

If the Polston’s are crazy, it may be crazy like a fox. Dr. Amy Macy teaches music industry marketing in Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Recording Industry. She says the Polstons have clearly done their homework.

“Vinyl has seen a double-digit increase with regards to sales,” Macy said. “Along with the fact that - if there was a target market to focus on - a college market with a recording industry program would be the place to do it, and Murfreesboro would certainly be an ideal local.”

Macy says industry watchers are having a hard time getting a handle on this latest generation of music consumers. She notes that young people are leading the trend toward online music consumption, but are also the ones buying vinyl records in growing numbers.

“It’s kind of a head scratcher. It’s an amoeba. It’s really hard to kind of put a lasso around it and identify what’s going on,” she said.

Murfreesboro resident Levi Massie was in The Little Record Shop on a recent Friday afternoon. He says he’s in the store a couple times a week and is a recent convert to vinyl.

“It fills out a room,” Massie said.  “It’s got this nice; cracks and pops and it just fills everything out more than any kind of compressed file.”

Grant Polston says that among his customers that’s a pretty common reaction.

“The liner notes, and just to have the artwork, you own something.  And maybe deep down it feels right to support the artist as opposed to, you know, steal a digitally re-mastered copy off of a cloud off of a server somewhere,” he says.

The Polston’s aren’t holding anything back. They’ve signed a three year lease and are continuing to add new items for sale. In early February, when retail sales of all kinds are usually down, The Little Record Shop had its best day ever.

“This is a great market,” Polston said. “We think it’s a great fit. We’ll see how it goes.”

Look for The Little Record Store just off the Murfreesboro square on East Main, or find them on Facebook.