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Re-Animated Records works weird magic

“It was scary to double our overhead, but scarier to not take the chance.”

It’s alive! And growing! Big new movie space, same green color scheme.
It’s alive! And growing! Big new movie space, same green color scheme.

Re-Animated Records, in the heart of La Mesa’s bustling downtown “village,” is a monster of a record store — in more ways than one. It’s named after the Lovecraftian horror comedy Re-Animator, which is about a medical student who finds a way to re-animate corpses. Proprietor Nicholas Friesen might be said to have done the same with the supposedly moribund model of the brick-and-mortar music shop and its bins of vinyl records through which the curious might flip. Friesen, the former manager of the local mini-chain Music Trader and an avid eBay seller, had a sizable collection of used LPs, CDs and DVDs, and a passion for both vinyl albums and horror movies. Six years ago, he and his wife took over an empty storefront on La Mesa Boulevard, painted the walls bright green (in honor of Herbert West?), and started to work their weird magic.

Ever since, the store has thrived, with the merchandise mix growing to include new vinyl — now a thing among millennials and Gen Z — as well as music books, movie posters, and horror movie memorabilia ranging from Chucky dolls to original theatrical “one sheets” for the 1960 classic Brides of Dracula. It got to the point where their monster store needed more monstrous proportions: when the escrow company next door closed down in 2022, Friesen and his wife contacted the landlord and moved into the vacant space. (The expansion meant breaking through the wall between the two businesses and, of course, painting the walls bright green.) The new addition now consists mostly of horror and other movies on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, as well as vintage clothing and an eclectic assortment of estate-sale finds. “We needed more room,” Friesen says. “It was scary to double our overhead, but scarier to not take the chance.”

Sponsored
Sponsored
Place

Re-Animated Records

8320 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

Friesen, a 40-year-old San Diego native, is a regular at swap meets, thrift shops and estate sales, and even drove cross-country once to buy a record collection in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His strangest buying journey, though, came one night when he answered a Craigslist ad for Texas Chainsaw Massacre posters and found himself at the Orange County home of Merle Allin, brother of late punk legend GG Allin and bassist in Allin’s backup band, the Murder Junkies. “He looks like a maniac, but he was surprisingly hospitable,” Friesen recalls. “I got there early, and he invited me in and made me coffee. He was just a supreme gentleman.”

Over the years, Friesen says, Re-Animated Records has built a steady clientele of regulars, many of them collectors. And from time to time there’s a celebrity guest. “Last summer we sold a VHS copy of Coven, a short independent horror film, to Matt Skiba, lead singer of the Alkaline Trio,” he says.

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It’s alive! And growing! Big new movie space, same green color scheme.
It’s alive! And growing! Big new movie space, same green color scheme.

Re-Animated Records, in the heart of La Mesa’s bustling downtown “village,” is a monster of a record store — in more ways than one. It’s named after the Lovecraftian horror comedy Re-Animator, which is about a medical student who finds a way to re-animate corpses. Proprietor Nicholas Friesen might be said to have done the same with the supposedly moribund model of the brick-and-mortar music shop and its bins of vinyl records through which the curious might flip. Friesen, the former manager of the local mini-chain Music Trader and an avid eBay seller, had a sizable collection of used LPs, CDs and DVDs, and a passion for both vinyl albums and horror movies. Six years ago, he and his wife took over an empty storefront on La Mesa Boulevard, painted the walls bright green (in honor of Herbert West?), and started to work their weird magic.

Ever since, the store has thrived, with the merchandise mix growing to include new vinyl — now a thing among millennials and Gen Z — as well as music books, movie posters, and horror movie memorabilia ranging from Chucky dolls to original theatrical “one sheets” for the 1960 classic Brides of Dracula. It got to the point where their monster store needed more monstrous proportions: when the escrow company next door closed down in 2022, Friesen and his wife contacted the landlord and moved into the vacant space. (The expansion meant breaking through the wall between the two businesses and, of course, painting the walls bright green.) The new addition now consists mostly of horror and other movies on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, as well as vintage clothing and an eclectic assortment of estate-sale finds. “We needed more room,” Friesen says. “It was scary to double our overhead, but scarier to not take the chance.”

Sponsored
Sponsored
Place

Re-Animated Records

8320 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

Friesen, a 40-year-old San Diego native, is a regular at swap meets, thrift shops and estate sales, and even drove cross-country once to buy a record collection in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His strangest buying journey, though, came one night when he answered a Craigslist ad for Texas Chainsaw Massacre posters and found himself at the Orange County home of Merle Allin, brother of late punk legend GG Allin and bassist in Allin’s backup band, the Murder Junkies. “He looks like a maniac, but he was surprisingly hospitable,” Friesen recalls. “I got there early, and he invited me in and made me coffee. He was just a supreme gentleman.”

Over the years, Friesen says, Re-Animated Records has built a steady clientele of regulars, many of them collectors. And from time to time there’s a celebrity guest. “Last summer we sold a VHS copy of Coven, a short independent horror film, to Matt Skiba, lead singer of the Alkaline Trio,” he says.

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