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How Do I Open a Record Shop?

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Opening a record shop is a dream come true for many music lovers, but it requires a lot of dedication and determination. Setting up a record shop means having to decide where you want the store to be, what inventory you want to carry and how you will pay for start-up costs plus the first few months of operating costs. Shop owners are also required to meet all local retail regulations and business requirements.


Location is one of the most important elements of a store. The location of your store helps to bring it to the attention of consumers and directly affects operating costs. When looking for a location you need a space that is visible and accessible to your customers but also meets your budget requirements. You also have to keep your inventory in mind. Vinyl records exposed to direct sunlight or high heat are susceptible to burn marks, warping and cracks. An ideal record store location has few to no windows on the sales floor and is climate controlled. Choose a location based on your parameters for space, size, function, available parking and cost. Remember to factor in any extraneous costs such as employee and customer parking and utilities.


Every city has business permits that are required before a new store opens. Record shops are considered a retail business and must conform to the local regulations for this type of business. To apply for business permits, consult your local city hall for information on what permits are needed and what the cost is. There is a small amount of paperwork to fill out and must be returned in a timely manner to make sure that you receive all applicable permits and business licenses prior to your store opening. You also need to register as a business with the IRS for tax purposes and may be required to submit to a structural inspection of your store.


Once you have your storefront, you need inventory to stock the shelves with. The first thing to decide is your inventory budget. Once that is determined, decide what items you would like to carry in your record shop and where you're going to get them from. There are several distributors that sell vinyls and music-related merchandise to privately owned record shops. You also need to determine how you want to display your merchandise and purchase the racks and cases for it. Vinyl records have to be stored upright in such a way that minimizes how much they lean, which can cause warping, but also in such a way that they are visible to customers. Displays have to allow for proper storage of vinyls. Once you reach the point of ordering inventory and displays you should also start installing phones, computers, Internet access, cash registers, signage and cleaning machines for vinyls if you intend on carrying used records.


Unless you plan to do everything in your record shop yourself, you need to hire staff before your store opens. Determine what your budget for staff is and whether you want to offer benefits to full-time employees. Place help wanted ads and conduct interviews to find qualified candidates, keeping in mind that at least one of them should be able to manage your record shop and other employees in your absence. You also want to make sure that the employees you hire have a love of music and knowledge of how to properly store and care for vinyl records. Customers should be able to come to your staff with any product questions and know that they are receiving an authoritative opinion. Leave yourself enough time to train staff before your store opens.