4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The flip side of vinyl

FeeLit feels economy’s sting but adapts and survives in East Village.
FeeLit feels economy’s sting but adapts and survives in East Village.

Mark Alan Hamilton was a Navy photographer who picked up DJing while working at a Hillcrest record store.

The Cincinnati-native had ingratiated himself into the local EDM scene, playing shows in Ensenada, Tijuana, and Rosarito as well as various San Diego house parties and venues, such as Belo and the Red C Lounge.

In 2008, Hamilton decided to assume ownership of a downtown record store that he had no idea was tanking.

“Fiesta Records specialized in house, disco...vinyl records on the electronic side.”

He thought taking over a retail homebase on E Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues in the East Village was a good investment.

“The owners of Fiesta Records were walking away. At the time, I was working as a bartender at Kava Lounge, so I borrowed $600 from the cash register because I knew I could pay it back by Friday, and I also borrowed $1000 from a friend.”

Hamilton took over the lease at 909 E. Street, signing a three-year lease. But he couldn’t even keep the Fiesta Records name. “They had a $700 outstanding phone bill. I had to change the name to FeeLit.”

But that was the least of his struggles.

“Little did I know that there was a perfect storm out there working against me — the bad economy and a technology shift.”

The bad economy meant that Hamilton “couldn’t give away [the records].” The technology shift: “Every kid with a laptop had the technology to be a DJ. Every kid at San Diego State could bring 50 people to a show, so the older people, the real DJs, got shifted out of a job.”

And, worse, Hamilton says he couldn’t buy the vinyl to stock his store.

“All the distributors went away.”

Yet, Hamilton kept FeeLit alive.

“I diversified in order to survive. We carried local CDs and books and artwork on consignment.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton, 39, knew he had to keep a job to keep the business alive.

“I’ve worked for the past three years at Fluxx as a VIP bottle service [waiter] three nights a week.”

And Hamilton says the market has turned around.

“We have 8000 12-inch records. We have classical, country, Broadway, children’s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s...” Hamilton reports, “Vinyl unit sales have increased from one million in 2007 to 4.6 million in 2012 according to Billboard.com.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Feeding souls with instant DharmaDen

When Covid says F-U
Next Article

Motherhood unvarnished: Andrea Yates, Prozac, Pine Valley

Crown Point, barf city, miscarriage, Legoland, how big I am, emptied breasts
FeeLit feels economy’s sting but adapts and survives in East Village.
FeeLit feels economy’s sting but adapts and survives in East Village.

Mark Alan Hamilton was a Navy photographer who picked up DJing while working at a Hillcrest record store.

The Cincinnati-native had ingratiated himself into the local EDM scene, playing shows in Ensenada, Tijuana, and Rosarito as well as various San Diego house parties and venues, such as Belo and the Red C Lounge.

In 2008, Hamilton decided to assume ownership of a downtown record store that he had no idea was tanking.

“Fiesta Records specialized in house, disco...vinyl records on the electronic side.”

He thought taking over a retail homebase on E Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues in the East Village was a good investment.

“The owners of Fiesta Records were walking away. At the time, I was working as a bartender at Kava Lounge, so I borrowed $600 from the cash register because I knew I could pay it back by Friday, and I also borrowed $1000 from a friend.”

Hamilton took over the lease at 909 E. Street, signing a three-year lease. But he couldn’t even keep the Fiesta Records name. “They had a $700 outstanding phone bill. I had to change the name to FeeLit.”

But that was the least of his struggles.

“Little did I know that there was a perfect storm out there working against me — the bad economy and a technology shift.”

The bad economy meant that Hamilton “couldn’t give away [the records].” The technology shift: “Every kid with a laptop had the technology to be a DJ. Every kid at San Diego State could bring 50 people to a show, so the older people, the real DJs, got shifted out of a job.”

And, worse, Hamilton says he couldn’t buy the vinyl to stock his store.

“All the distributors went away.”

Yet, Hamilton kept FeeLit alive.

“I diversified in order to survive. We carried local CDs and books and artwork on consignment.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton, 39, knew he had to keep a job to keep the business alive.

“I’ve worked for the past three years at Fluxx as a VIP bottle service [waiter] three nights a week.”

And Hamilton says the market has turned around.

“We have 8000 12-inch records. We have classical, country, Broadway, children’s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s...” Hamilton reports, “Vinyl unit sales have increased from one million in 2007 to 4.6 million in 2012 according to Billboard.com.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Carpetbaggers part two: Elizabeth Ashley makes her screen debut

Of all the women who figure into Jonas’ life, she is the only one who isn’t a prostitute.
Next Article

Robert Graves: among the best poetry in English literature

A novelist, and classicist best known for I, Claudius (1934) and its sequel, Claudius the God
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close