Joe Schwab, owner of Euclid Records, has been slinging wax for 40 years. We spoke with him recently about the store, music, and all things vinyl! Read on below for the full interview.
1. How long have you been in business?
We began in St. Louis 41 years ago and New Orleans 11 years ago. The original store came from the ashes of the Wuxtry Records chain in St. Louis (Wuxtry still exists in Athens, GA). The store has grown from 700 sq ft in 1981 to it's current 5,900 sq ft three story building. The New Orleans store also expanded from 1500 sq ft to a 4,500 sq ft two story building 5 years ago.
2. Can you give me some background on the shop?
I've been a record fanatic since I was about 10 years old, so I seemed destined to make it my life's work. We all have our passions, I was just so lucky to be able to turn a passion into a business. After 40 years, I guess I can finally say a successful business.
3. Do you focus on any particular genres of music or any specific formats?
Essentially is the store, rock has always paid the rent, but we're known worldwide for jazz vinyl. When CDs were replacing
vinyl as the main source of recorded music, we doubled down on vinyl, yet appeasing our CD customers by opening an all vinyl store in 1996 and turning the original store into a CD shop. The “Vinyl Shack” was a place where we could build a solid online inventory and embrace our online partners. We had previously done direct mail catalogs, targeted to our Jazz customers around the world, but now we were doing regular online auctions while we cataloged our 50,000+ piece inventory for our growing website. All this kept us going while so many stores had trouble negotiating the transformation from the CD format to digital.
4. What are some of your best sellers?
Right now with this “vinyl renaissance” we've been experiencing, we're finding people are building libraries by purchasing the essentials. I often say that my next store will be called “Dark Side Of The Rumors”. One side of the store is Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of The Moon' and the other Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumors.' It's a joke of course, but every year The Beatles 'Abbey Road' is in our top 10. Miles Davis' 'Kind Of Blue' is and has been our best selling jazz album for a many years now. Every time we sell a turntable we get a new customer. Folks just can't live with a small handful of records, so our customers come back each week looking for more. While we sell plenty of new releases, the back catalog is stronger than ever.
5. What are the biggest challenges you think the store will have to navigate in the next ten years?
The big issue we have right now is the demand for vinyl and the lack of pressing plants to meet that demand. Certain titles will be released, sell out and might not be re-pressed for the foreseeable future, making them instant collectibles. Trends and technology have made my work very challenging throughout all my years doing this. I truly feel some relief from that because what is old is new again. Vinyl has a timeless element about it, the size, the packaging and the ritual of it have always been intoxicating to the people who collect it. We're now seeing teenagers again coming in the store which we hadn’t seen since the beginning of the CD era. Folks my age (I'm 62) have more disposable income and are returning to their first love, vinyl. I've never felt more optimistic about our industry as I do today. 15 years ago, the future looked bleak. Stores were dropping off worldwide, but those who stuck it out, who found there way past the file sharing, the MP3s and streaming are benefiting now.
6. Favorite three records of 2021/Any staff favorites?
There was no consensus on a top record from the staff, but a few trends.
1. Our best selling artist last year was Taylor Swift. It's rare that a Pop star of that magnitude is selling at all in an independent record store, historically we're way to cool for Pop music! But Taylor makes the effort to sit down and autograph thousands of CDs ticketed to stores like mine. Artist like her that make that kind of an effort and recognize the importance of stores like mine…well there's going to be a special place for Ms. Swift in record store heaven!
2. We love all the Tone Poet Series Blue Note records have released. Classic Jazz records made with care and packaged the way they deserve to be.
3. Over the years we've had a wonderful relationship with the Wilco camp. Jeff Tweedy worked for us when he was in the band Uncle Tupelo. We'll always promote Jeff and the bands material because he's family and because everything they do is simply awesome!
6. Anything else you want customers to know? (do you feature live in-store performances? Have a cozy listening room, etc?).
I’ve always looked at the record store as a gathering place for the music community to get together and talk shop. The pandemic has put such an enormous damper on that. We haven’t had an in-store appearance since 2019, we haven’t had our regular Record Store Day festivities since then. Normally we'd have 20+ live bands lined up to play on RSD with food and drink sponsors, it really is quite a party. It's just disappointing to not be able to service the music community the way that we would like, but so much has changed the past two years and we figure out other ways to stay in contact via social media.
I have taken some of those creative energies and put them towards reissuing significant records by local legends here in St. Louis and soon New Orleans as well. This past Black Friday we issued the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame pianist Johnnie Johnson's Johnnie B. Bad record for the first time on vinyl. This is the start of a local series to spotlight the musical contributions both our cities have had over the years.
Euclid Records - St. Louis
19. N Gore Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63119
314 - 961 - 8978
Monday - Thursday: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 10:00am - 9:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
3301 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70117
504 - 947 - 4348
Monday - Sunday: 11:00am - 6:00pm