3749 Park Boulevard, Hillcrest
“Do you know who Terry Callier is?” Steve Kader pulls an album from a stack in a wood produce crate and runs down the list of first-call session players in the credits. “Callier’s like Richie Havens, only deeper, but he never really made it.” It will go this way for the better part of an hour, Kader digging through his crates and getting enthusiastic about the kinds of details that only a connoisseur of recorded music would notice. “I like eclectic things and turning people on to new stuff.”
Six weeks ago, Kader opened a used-record shop on Park Boulevard in a little building that has at different times housed a frozen-yogurt parlor, a florist, a pet shop and, Kader says, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Now, crates filled with vintage vinyl ring the perimeter of Groovy Records on folding tables. Posted behind the cash register is a San Diego police-issued permit. “A used-record store is a police-regulated business. You buy and sell used stuff. It’s along the lines of a pawn shop.”
Steve Kader, 43, is something of a musical jack of all trades, having been a talent buyer for both 4th&B and the Adams Avenue Street Fair, a club and radio deejay, manager of the B-Side Players, and a club events promoter. Why take the risk of launching a brick-and-mortar business in economic hard times?
“It’s been kind of a dream,” he says. “I’ve always worked for other people. I’ve never owned my own business. And, why not have another great record store?” This is said in reference to the fact that at least six more vinyl retailers are within a radius of only a few miles. Kader sees what he describes as “synergy between the record stores” in his neighborhood. “Thirsty Moon, for example, specializes in reissues. I wanna have a variety.”
A pristine copy of Joe Bataan’s Singin’ Some Soul (from 1972 — not the reissue) is marked at $150. Displayed along the back wall are more rarities by Fela Kuti, the Zombies, Velvet Underground, the Ramones, Chocolate Milk, and Nick Cave. Punk, rock, jazz, blues, country, hip-hop, and dance are represented in the crates. But the discs seem cherry-picked. Are these Kader’s own records for sale? Yes, he says, some of them are.
“But friends have records here on consignment, too. And, I also buy collections.” Considering that downloads essentially flat-lined point-of-purchase, what hope can Kader pin on the future of retail record sales? “The business is coming full circle,” he says. “People still want to pick up a record and look at it. You can’t do that on eBay.”