Record Store Day Series: Get the Business in Anacortes

Phil Saunders - Editor

If you are a vinyl junkie, like me, you’ll be getting hyped for April 22nd. That’s Record Store Day, when vinyl junkies pull out their savings accounts and get ready to sit in line on that day, sometimes camping out overnight, to be assured the special releases that come out each year and although expensive, and often overpriced, are much coveted by our brethren.

In the spirit of supporting this annual event, geared at getting people offline and physically into independent record stores where buyers understand that us rabid vinyl junkies inevitably spend at least $100 more than usual, while blindly buying special releases like those put out by independent and non-independent labels to capitalize on this special day, The Crossing Guide will post a short article on a boutique (read specialized) record shop in your neighbourhood once or twice a week between now and April 22.

First on the block, The Business, in Anacortes Washington.

Operated by Nick Rennis and Evie Opp, the store’s name, although a tongue in cheek reference to the music business, reveals an ethos that is worth considering:

Editor’s Note:

The Business, a retail experiment (whose past employees include Karl Blau and Phil Elverum), was founded in 1978 by Anacortes legend Glen DesJardins. In its humble beginnings The Business carried everything from stained glass and books to bird seed and photography equipment. Bret Lunsford (Beat Happening, D+) owned The Business from 1995-2004, when it was home to KNW-YR-OWN. Liz and Jensen Lovelett owned the store from 2005-2010 and moved it to the historical downtown district. In 2016, the shop was moved once more. (edited April 4, 2017)

Nick Rennis takes a great deal of pride in running a special store in a small market where a lot of creative people reside.

“It’s a new model for the little guy: a distribution hub and boutique for independent artists and those seeking independent music,” says Rennis, whose own experience as an independent musician revealed the challenge of corporate music sales and distribution.

The small shop’s name is a bit of a misnomer. The front of the store is your standard, meticulously curated new and used product, with a diminishing collection of CDs and an ever-increasing selection of LPs and, wait for it, cassettes.

“We support both the refined music lover and the artists that produce interesting music,” says Rennis, whose distribution arm ships not only independently released albums and singles, but also represents such luminary labels as Avant!, Dais, Dub Ditch Picnic, Gnar Tapes, Gnome Life, Guruguru Brain, Hozac, K Records, Knw-Yr-Own, La Castanya, Life Like, Lost Sound, Maple Death, Orange Milk, Orindal, P.W. Elverum & Sun, People In A Position To Know, Resurrection, States Rights, Tall Pat, Tenth Court, Three:Four, Yerevan, as well as a selection of self-releasing artists of the highest caliber.

“With a curated roster of artists and labels, we can feature every release. It doesn’t matter who or where it comes from,” he says, “we consider our artists and regular clients part of a family of an intentional approach in an industry that is changing all the time.”

But what is most peculiar, is the ever-growing collection of cassettes. Yes, cassettes…apparently, they too are making a comeback along with their more regal older brother.

“I think most people are buying the cassettes for the unique and affordable packaging, plus the digital downloads that usually come with them.”

Getting there:

If you are coming from Canada, more specifically Victoria and locations north, you can catch the Washington State Ferry’s post-Easter, pre-New Year’s voyage from Sidney, BC to Anacortes…leaving once a day in the off season and twice a day during peak season. In the case of April 22nd, that’s once a day. We recommend you make a reservation. The ferry fills up quick and plan to be there an hour before departure.

If you are coming from Vancouver, take the I-5 to Burlington WA, then get on highway 20 West, which will take you right downtown. The Business is near the end of Commercial on the left, next to a bike shop. You may want to also pop into the Antique Market across the street…there are treasures to be found there as well, in case you need another excuse to visit lovely, picturesque Anacortes.

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.

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