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Not So Secretly, Eastside Records Comes Back from the Dead

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 17:01

Eastside Records

Ryan A. Ruiz

The Ghost of Eastside Records opened in Tempe


There's a rich, nerdy culture that keeps record stores in business. So for audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts, seeing a beloved record store close its doors is tough. They hardly ever re-open in the same place twice and generally the new locations never seem as convenient as before.  Remember when Hoodlums went "on hiatus" after the Great Memorial Union Fire of 2007? The store's relocation on McClintock Drive – so far away from the college crowd – was such bittersweet news. Thankfully, the store is alive and well, and always worth the drive.

Let's hope the same holds true for Mill Avenue Districts' Eastside Records. As we remember it, the store, furnished by innards of various defunct record stores, was a compact goldmine of super obscure and collection-worthy vinyl. It was a place where folks could nerd out with the guys behind the counters and occasionally catch a live show. Most importantly, it was an integral part in making Ash Avenue Plaza a hipster Mecca.

So when Eastside Records manager Michael Pawlicki closed its doors in December 2010, some customers may have felt the same kind of dark cloud hover over them as they had when Hoodlums closed shop three years prior. However, closing the doors for good was never part of Pawlicki's plans.

"In fact," he said. "I was shocked at how many people knew we were going to be here."

A year after closing Eastside, he's back to harvesting and selling records a few miles south with his pop-up shop The Ghost of Eastside Records in Danelle Plaza – near Yucca Tap Room and Q & Brew. Over the last 12 months, he's been acquiring stock for his new self-made display cartons. Along with that, it takes a lot of time to price and arrange a seemingly endless stream of merchandise still in storage. Despite all that work, he intends for the shop to be a temporary venture that'll likely only be open through late spring.

"It's going to take me months to get the store to where I want it," Pawlicki said of the store's progress. "At that point, I'll decide what to do with it, [whether] it's here or to go elsewhere."

"It's definitely gonna be somewhere," Pawlicki offered, adding later, "I bought all this stuff and I don't want to keep this many records personally. So I've got to sell all of it. I have way too many."

It's difficult to assess the record store's financial progress following the holiday season, but Pawlicki reports that the shop is doing really well, thanks a lot to word-of-mouth. Although, he may also just be in a good mood because he scored some wicked used blues albums a few minutes ago.

"We've been doing quite well," Pawlicki said. "We opened right before Christmas, almost as an emergency opening. We weren't really ready, but people have been really receptive to it and really nice."

About two-thirds of TGOER's customers are Eastside regulars, Pawlicki estimated.

"There are always some new people, but there's a community of people who've done this a long time a buy a certain type of record and you know them."

When Pawlicki isn't "stopping the clock" to buy or trade records with customers –and when the store's 13-year-old dog Phoebe isn't making a run for the door – he's scoping out the goods at other local stores which are unsurprisingly co-dependent and often pretty specialized.

"We have a long history in the punk rock scene and indie and hip-hop, but I mean, these stores have changed business a lot over the years," he said. "You can no longer sell 50 of the new NOFX, you sell maybe five or 10."

A fall in the number of sales of these kinds of records is directly related to the changing consumer as well. The internet makes it easy to get hard-to-find records – which is where Pawlicki sells records not being bought in-store – and prices have gone up while the number of consumers have decreased.

"You see less people and more dedicated people willing to spend a little more money into it," he said. "Prices have come back down recently because if I hear correctly the economy isn't doing so well. […] Some things have come quite a bit down but, in general, a lot of these things are getting older and even old punk rock records and whatnot are becoming almost antique-y."

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