Yellow Racket Records To Open Record Store In April 2020

Monday, September 23, 2019
Ben VanderHart
Ben VanderHart
- photo by Kate VanderHart

Local indie record label Yellow Racket Records has announced a plan to open a 2,000 square foot record store in the heart of Chattanooga in April 2020. The store will primarily carry vinyl records, both new and used, with a wide selection from independent and major labels. They also intend to stock a small assortment of CD's, cassettes, posters, and other music merchandise (such as apparel and accessories).

The store will partner with Goodman Coffee to operate a small coffee bar for people to enjoy while shopping and listening, and they plan to host regular events on site, including in-store performances, listening parties, artist meet-and-greets, and other community events for vinyl collectors and music lovers.

Label-founder and owner Ben VanderHart states that the vision for the location is to help foster Chattanooga's vibrant community of vinyl collectors and music lovers by offering tangible, memorable experiences with music.

"We live in an age where music is becoming more and more ephemeral; and as that happens, more and more people are looking for intentional, physical, lasting experiences with music," said Mr. VanderHart. "Which is why I think vinyl has become so popular in the last decade."

Vinyl's popularity has indeed soared over the last 12 years, as new vinyl LP sales in the U.S. rocketed from 0.9 million in 2006 to 16.8 million in 2018. Of those 16.8 million, the majority (6.9 million) were sold in independent record stores - places like Grimey's in Nashville, Criminal Records in Atlanta, Harvest Records in Asheville, or the famous Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. To no one's surprise, the next largest sales channel was through online retailers (6.89 million), and only 1.76 million units were sold in chain stores.

"I think this speaks to the type of buyer who collects vinyl," said Mr. VanderHart. "They're not picking up records from the same big box stores where they buy clothes or boxed furniture or blu ray players. For vinyl lovers, shopping for records is a deliberate excursion, where every city has a unique record store with a distinct curation and taste, and each one represents an opportunity to find some hidden treasure that you've been searching for for months but haven't been able to get your hands on."

To manage the record store on a day-to-day basis, Mr. VanderHart has enlisted the help of Abe Houck, a name that many will recognize as a fixture of Chattanooga's live music scene since 2011 when he began performing with the band Elk Milk. Since then, Mr. Houck has spearheaded many different musical projects, such as Dead Testaments and The Bardos, but his resumé also boasts experience working in both record stores and coffee shops, making him an ideal candidate to operate the new Yellow Racket retail location.

"We just want to make a great record store," Mr. Houck stated. "A place for community; a place to share the music we love; a place that will attract new talent and elevate the music scene in Chattanooga."

Yellow Racket aims to open the brick-and-mortar location in April 2020, prior to Record Store Day next year. But before then, Mr. VanderHart and Mr. Houck will host semi-monthly pop-up shops around town to get the word out and give buyers a small taste of the store's curation and vinyl collection. 

Keep your ears to the ground for announcements about these pop-up shows and other events leading up to the grand opening. Receive updates by signing up for the store's newsletter and following them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Find Yellow Racket the record label on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, or at yellowracket.com.

Abe Houck
Abe Houck
- photo by Carien Houck

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