After 15 years, Red Cat is a boutique record store institution in Vancouver, Canada

The Crossing Guide Staff

Red Cat’s new location on East Hastings

The last day before Record Store Day 2017 and The Crossing Guide chose Vancouver, British Columbia’s Red Cat Records, a boutique styled store that stocks about 70 percent vinyl, 25 percent CD and maybe 5 percent cassette.

The Main Street location, in the Vancouver neighborhood of Mount Pleasant/Riley Park, has been on the block for 15 years, while the newer location at East Hasting and Nanaimo, also known as the Sunrise neighborhood of East Vancouver opened less than a year ago.

Originally opened across the street from its current locale on Main, the flagship store was started up by Amy Brannen and Andrew Pearson, with current owner Dave Gowans being a hired gun from legendary record shop Scratch around 2001.

Dave Gowans, co-owner of the stores at his flagship store on Main Street

“I came on board when vinyl was just starting to make a comeback,” Gowan recalls. “Today, we sell about 70 percent vinyl and the stock we carry is closely aligned to the clientele we attract.”

Co-owner Lasse Lutick at the newest location on East Hastings (at Nanaimo St.).

Entering the store, you hear the sudden needle drop on A Love Supreme, by John Coltrane as you peruse the bins of vinyl that include both classics and new releases from punk, new wave, alt-rock and the classics, both new and used. Two turntables and a lone CD player allow you to test the used product, while the new product must be taken home to be tried out.

“Buying new vinyl is challenging for stores,” says Gowans, “Because you can’t return it. So, you need to be careful about how much of any one title you buy. But I think we’ve got it nailed. And besides, anyone who wants something knows we can get it for them.”

The new location on East Hastings, with displays constructed by co-owner Lasse Lutick, is about 90 percent vinyl. The shop fixtures present a neater, yet efficient offering with two long record bins leading to a desk at the back of the shop. On the day I went in, someone of a similar demographic (40 to 50 years) was working his way through what appeared to be a carefully crafted list of haves and have-nots.

All of which is to say, Red Cat has assembled and bears the banner of vinyl stores in the region. Which is why on Record Store Day 2017, at the Main Street location, you can see live music with performances by Loscil, Pack A.D., Ashley Shadow, Koban, Skyote and product discounts galore.

Record Store Day, April 22, 2017. Be there early, or be disappointed.

Getting there:

Main Street Location:

East Hastings Street Location:

About Phil Saunders (17 Articles)
I have been a professional writer since 1988 when I began my career as a music journalist. In 1998 I began working at CBC, after returning to work with a Master's in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. In 2000 I co-produced a feature film that was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival among other North American film festivals. In 2016 I published a book on the Toronto underground music scene called No Flash Please: Underground Music in Toronto 1987-1992. I am also a photographer and documentary filmmaker.