After outgrowing its original location in Oregon Hill, a record store likes the sound of bigger digs in downtown Richmond.
Vinyl Conflict is moving out of 324 S. Pine St., where it first opened in 2008, and plans to reopen at 300 E. Grace St. in early June.
Owner Bobby Egger said he was driven to end the shop’s 14-year run on Pine Street by the need for a larger space in a more commercial-oriented part of town.
“We’ve always been a destination location to begin with,” Egger said of the shop, which primarily sells punk, metal and hardcore vinyl records. “We were able to make it work that way and we made that space (on Pine Street) work for a very long time with next to no foot traffic. So, I think we were excited to dip our toe into an area that has more foot traffic.”
Vinyl Conflict’s new space is 1,800 square feet compared to the 450-square-foot spot it currently occupies. Egger estimated the sales-floor portion of his space would be about two-and-a-half times larger on East Grace compared to Oregon Hill.
Egger expects to carry a larger inventory of new and used records not just for his mainstay genres but also for the store’s smaller selections of hip-hop, jazz, disco and other genres.
“One of our most popular sellers is hip-hop and it’s just a row on the shelf. So, I’d like to give it the attention it deserves,” Egger said. “I really want our shop to be accessible to anyone who walks through the door.”
The move for more retail space comes after Vinyl Conflict expanded its mail order operations during the pandemic. Egger said he listed about 40 percent of his inventory on the internet pre-pandemic, and these days it is more like 90 percent. The shop handles its e-commerce through Discogs, an online music marketplace.
“I like to give my local customers the first chance and to give the shop a unique experience,” Egger said of the unlisted inventory. “That (remaining) 10 percent is new arrivals and new used items.”
Egger said customer interest in vinyl records has remained strong through the pandemic, and it’s become more challenging recently to source products.
“I’m seeing a level of popularity across the whole industry that’s higher than previous years. It appears the whole industry is doing incredibly,” he said. “The supply chain is getting difficult. You get one or two cracks at ordering and then it’s sold out.”
Egger said he expects to operate out of the Pine Street space until mid- to late-May.
The new space is owned by a group that includes Duke Dodson that bought the property in 2017. The yoga studio in the building that was run by one of the property owners closed earlier this year.
Palmer Wilkins of Dodson Commercial represented the landlord in lease negotiations. John Simmons of JLL handled lease negotiations on behalf of Vinyl Conflict.
Just as Vinyl Conflict is leaving Oregon Hill, fellow neighborhood retailer Rest in Pieces recently became its own landlord in order to remain in place.