Support us with Kachingle!
October 4, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Taylor Bacon, a co-owner of Columbia’s newest record shop, wants customers to experience “the three L’s” when they visit Hitt Records: lounge, lollygag and loiter. Most store owners don’t wish for loiterers, but Bacon figures customers will find that the longer they hang out at Hitt Records, the better the chance they’ll come across a funky, one-of-a-kind gem to add to their collection.
With vinyl purchases making a comeback in 2011 (according to the Record Industry Association of America, there was a 31.5 percent increase from 2010), enthusiasm for LPs began to grow. Combine heightened sales across the nation, a greater public interest and few competing vinyl stores, and Hitt Records was born. It fulfilled a dream Bacon says he has held since he was 12.
Bacon and Cook wanted a store with an expansive inventory, and they wanted to share their musical knowledge with customers. When they were offered the cozy and small attic with warm yellow walls above 9th St. Video, Cook says, it “was all systems go.”
“We know there’s at least 100 people who buy records in Columbia,” Cook says. He and Bacon host a Monday night listening event at Uprise Bakery’s bar where people get together to play their favorite records. These fans and their wishes for an exclusively vinyl outlet in the area inspired Bacon and Cook to open up shop.
Despite the closings of several other record stores in Columbia, Bacon and Cook saw a need for their store. Mizzou Records, Whizz Records and Happy Time Media, three stores that sold vinyl, all shut down in the past seven years mostly because of a lack of customers.
Bacon used his personal record collection to begin the inventory for the shop, which now holds about 5,000 records. More than 1,000 records are currently in the storefront with the rest waiting to be unpacked. The collection spans multiple genres and eras, and it ranges from classics such as James Brown to the latest Cat Power album.
“If you’re looking for something specific, just ask, and we’ll find it,” Bacon says. When it comes to vintage and classic records, it’s like a treasure hunt, he says.
Comparing finding a good record to searching for treasure isn’t a stretch as customers will have stacks of vinyl to pore over at Hitt Records. Customers can take their time browsing and can relax in a chair when the search is over.
Some people prefer vinyl records because they think it sounds warmer, fuller and more dynamic. Other LP fans in Columbia, such as Wade Schoengarth, who works at Streetside Records, think it’s the process of listening to a record that makes it enjoyable. “You have to listen to the album as whole,” Schoengarth says. “You don’t skip songs. It’s a more natural process.”
Bacon and Cook are optimistic when thinking about Hitt Records’ future. “People are thanking us for finally having the gumption to open,” Bacon says.
They aren’t looking for top dollar on their records, and they are keeping their day jobs, but they believe the store will succeed thanks to their immense knowledge of all things vinyl.
“We both know a ton about (records), and that’s where we’re ahead of the game,” Bacon says. Little details in the store, such as Post-it notes with Bacon and Cook’s comments on certain records, add to what the owners hope keeps customers happy.
“It’s a local store for local people,” Bacon says. Cook adds, “We never want someone to leave here with a bitter taste in their mouth.” Just a record in hand, ready to make a perfect addition to a collection.