By Brian McTavish
It was summer 2015 when Josey Records, a small Dallas-based chain, and tiny indie Revolution Records opened almost around the corner from one another in the East Crossroads.
Scratching for then-scarce foot traffic, either record store might have viewed the other as an enemy to be ignored or outright vanquished in the quest for vinyl customers.
Yet no platter rumble went down between downtown’s only two dedicated vinyl outlets.
That’s largely thanks to their managers – Christian Labeau at Josey Records and Promise Clutter at Revolution Records – who had become friends years earlier as co-workers at Mills Record Company in Westport.
“Most record store workers are recycled, just like the records,” said Clutter, 24, who also worked part-time at Josey before becoming manager at Revolution.
“To an extent, we’re competitors, but we can do different things and coexist really nicely.
“I gave Chris a Rev T-shirt in exchange for a Josey T-shirt. We just wanted to help each other’s stores.”
Both proprietors also are well aware their presence contributes to the continuing development and growing sense of community in the East Crossroads.
“Everyone helps each other,” said Labeau, 43, a former manager at Streetside Records.
“People can come down here and get some food at Mission Taco, get some drinks at Brewery Emperial, check out some of the galleries, jump on the streetcar and visit the record shops.”
So what’s flying out of the bins?
“A lot of ’70s rock, what kids would call, ‘Dad Rock,’” Labeau said. “It used to be Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, just common things like Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ that you’d see all the time. Now we can’t keep them in stock.”
Clutter concurs that even with “all of the punk, the metal, the avant-garde, the electronic, all the weird stuff that we have here, ’70s classic rock is such an easy sell.
“But you can turn people on to anything and you can carry anything you want, as long as it’s good and you can show people why it’s good.”
On First Fridays, both stores book a lineup of predominately local bands attracting the curious along with committed vinyl heads.
“We get a whole different demographic,” Labeau said, “just a lot of people from the burbs trying to get a taste of the Crossroads.
“And a lot of them will come in and buy old records just for nostalgia. Some of them don’t even have a record player.
“They say, ‘I just want this’ or ‘I know someone who would love this.’ They buy the record and get it framed and put it on their wall.”
For those wanting to actually hear what’s in the grooves, both stores also deal in secondhand stereo equipment.
“We’ve helped so many people get their first turntable,” Clutter said. “That’s always fun.
“I can always tell when people, especially young people, are nervous to ask the questions about the turntables.
“Or they ask, ‘Do I need a receiver with it?’ Things that seem basic to most of us, a lot of people haven’t been exposed to yet.”
Vinyl fans often are drawn downtown for live music and stop by the shops before or after the show.
“You’ve got Sprint Center, recordBar, CrossroadsKC over here,” Labeau said.
“Those three venues alone, anytime there’s a huge show, will bring people downtown. We just see them in and out the door all day.”
Revolution keeps extra hours when there’s a big show at nearby Grinders.
“I’ll stay open until 10 or 10:30 at night,” Clutter said. “Even if someone just buys a $5 record or $8 poster, a lot of times they do come back.”
And those customers can become friends.
“Record stores have historically been the places where bands and friends meet each other,” Clutter said. “And where people see cool shows and meet cool people.”
Meanwhile, Clutter at Revolution Records and Labeau at Josey Records remain fans of each other.
“We like to send people each other’s way all the time,” Clutter says.
“If people come in from out of town and say they’re really happy to find a record store, we always say, ‘Well, you should check out our friends down the street.’”
There might even be another T-shirt swap soon.
“Yeah, I got paint on my Josey T-shirt while painting the store,” Clutter said. “So I’ve got to get another one.”
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