Tips for running an independent record store

How to successfully run an independent record store

Independent record shops are alive and well in downtown Urbana and Champaign, Ill. according to this walking tour by Leah D. Nelson of Buzz Weekly.

“People still like buying stuff like this at stores rather than online,” Jeff Brandt, owner of Exile on Main Street in Champaign told Nelson for the story.


Maybe so.


The Coalition of Independent Music Stores, including retailers like Plan 9 Music, Richmond, VA (early store pictured above), is dedicated to the survival of independent retailers in the face of challenges from the Internet and big discount chains.


Here, from music business coach Joe Taylor Jr., are some tips for successfully running an independent record store in your hometown:

  • Position (yourself) as an expert in one or more specific niches. When folks think you’re THE destination for emo/jazz/metal/reggae/yourgenrehere, you can go deep and superserve a grateful customer.
  • Focus on special events. Make the store a destination. Create lots of in-store concerts, signings, listening parties, and anything else that can get folks out at lunch time, after work, or around shows (if the store’s near a venue).
  • Make it easy to do business. Offer online presales with in-store pickup. Blog about upcoming releases and special events.
  • Create a space that’s fun to shop in. Ditch the fluorescent lights and use warm gallery bulbs. Make it easy to browse and listen to songs. CLEAN THE STORE, so folks won’t mind spending time there.

Here’s more on the indie retail scene from


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