Last November, Brian Witkin opened Real 2 Reel, a record store at Mira Mesa's Epicentre, an all-ages venue. He says business is good.
"I have five [part-time] employees now with workers' comp and all that," says 19-year-old Witkin. His bottom line is helped because, in lieu of fixed rent, he pays a percentage of sales to the Epicentre. Witkin believed the venue would be a natural place to sell CDs by local unsigned bands that play there; he found out that they would rather give them away.
"I'm living in the indie-rock world where free CDs are the norm," says Witkin. "I have to pursue bands to get them to bring their CDs in." Business improved when his store became a Soundscan reporter. (Soundscan tracks sales for the record industry. Those figures affect chart positions, which can draw the attention of large labels to small bands.)
"The bigger bands on tour who play the Epicentre are now coming to us. I just got a call from Evergreen Terrace [on Eulogy Records], who want to sell through my store when they play here. If bands just sell CDs at a merch table, they don't get Soundscan [recognition]."
Because Witkin can't trademark the Real 2 Reel name (it's already in use), he sought out the Pacific Records moniker and "couldn't believe no one had it."
Real 2 Reel/Pacific Records carries about 900 titles. "Vinyl sells really well. On some nights we sell more vinyl than CDs.... My friends ask me why I don't find a retail space and open up a store. Why should I spend time and money opening up a new store when I can have the demographic that buys records come to me?"
Witkin says Real 2 Reel/Pacific Records is also a Del Mar--based record label that has released one local-band compilation and ten albums by local artists such as Sylem, Dead Giveaway, and, Witkin's band, Warrior Finches.
"I'm going to set up a booth at seven Warped Tour dates. Maybe more. MxPx and Halifax said they will stop by to do signings every day."
Witkin will be set up at today's Warped show at Coors Amphitheatre.