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Record Store Spotlight: Three Feather Records, Fairfield, OH

Ahead of the Midwest Record Store Crawl on March 23rd, we got the opportunity to speak with organizers Three Feather Records about their store and story. Read on below!

Run by Eric DePrato and sons Jack and Mitch, Three Feather Records is a family affair. A fact that is immediately apparent upon walking through their front doors in Fairfield, OH. Friendly, warm, and infinitely stoked on music, Three Feather Records is a great place to not only find your next favorite LP, but also somewhere that is easy to feel comfortable in. With a John Coltrane tune playing over the store speakers, we spoke with owner Eric DePrato and got to know more about Three Feather.

SofaBurn: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? i.e. What got you into music? Have you always wanted to own and operate a record store? 

Eric DePrato: "I was a Navy brat. Moved to Ohio at 10, started guitar at 12. Didn't practice until I was 16. I just wore the guitar to act like Kiss in my friends' basement. Was in a hair/metal band (if you consider the Scorpions, Quiet Riot and Def Leppard metal) called Target (we're about 13% sure the store stole the name from us). I retired from the Army after 34 years  (mostly Army Reserves), have been an RN for 28 years and started the record store in November of 2022. Had absolutely no thoughts of starting a record store until about 4 years ago. My boys Jack and Mitch (who collect) said " Let's start a record store," and I said "No." After going into Plaid Room Records on a Saturday I said "Yes." Little did I know that not all record stores were like Plaid Room on a Saturday. We rented a store in an old strip mall, had my neighbor design some shelves and we started building the store. Covid hit, I got deployed and the store sat empty for two years. I had absolutely no idea how to buy the records (or sell them, either) so I  Googled "How to buy records"  and found a collection on FB marketplace and got about 1,000 totally garbage records for $250 (which was about $230 more than they were worth). Then I googled 'record distributors', sent them some money and they sent me some records. It all started from there. Still have no idea what I'm doing."

SB: What is your favorite record store? How did your experiences there shape what you do now and your tastes?

E: "I don't actually buy many records for myself, so I base my 'favorite' on how it looks, the vibe and the experience with the staff and owners and their business model. (Which, I guess, defines 'favorite'). Lordy, I'm a dense one. Amoeba in Hollywood is cool just based on its history - it's a bit overwhelming, though.  Grimey's in Nashville is a neat place. Lots of cool stores in our region but I can't be specific without hurting feelings. ha. If I had to pick a store that influenced me the most I would have to say Plaid Room - they seem very efficient and effortlessly cool. Which I am neither. The owner of Main street vinyl (Bill) helped guide me on occasion and I owe him a lot for being unselfish - I was a new store a couple miles from him and he didn't have to help me with questions but he graciously did."

SB: Can you give me a bit of a backstory on Three Feather? How long have you been in operation, are you the original owner, etc.

E: "The back story starts, I guess, with my wife's death from cancer a few years ago.  Shortly after her funeral, Our two boys (Jack and Mitch) and I got into our car and drove across the country not knowing where we were going or what our plan was. We just drove and listened to music and tried to keep each other happy. The store is named Three Feather Records because we all have feather tattoos on our forearms in honor of her (she said to think of her whenever we see a feather) -  and Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters - their music was instrumental in helping us through that incredibly rough period. I hope I get to tell them one day how grateful we are. (Dave has a feather tattoo on his arm, also.)"

SB: What has been your favorite experience running an independent record store?

E: "Working with my boys is my favorite part of the entire thing, but as far as not stating the obvious, I can't think of a particular experience. The two things I enjoy most are the conversations with customers and the bands that play here. It's very satisfying providing a space for bands to play in front of an audience so they can share their talents, have a good time and hopefully assist with getting their music out.. It's especially satisfying when it's a band's first performance.  Their excitement before and after a gig is awesome and it's really nice to be able to help make that happen. We tend to go overboard with the fog and lights in an effort to help them feel like they're performing at a 'real' venue though, and not a record store. Another thing that stands out is all the people I've met from other record stores, record labels, recording studios, distributors, radio stations, TV stations from doing events like this record store crawl. It's really been a great experience meeting so many cool, nice and talented people."

SB: In a world where streaming is most folks' method of consuming music, why do you feel that vinyl and physical, independent stores continue to be important and needed?

E: "I can't deny that streaming has its obvious benefits - I use it all the time - especially when I'm busy and don't have time to get up and change an album every 22 minutes, ha. Plus having 20 million songs at your fingertips is pretty amazing. I think vinyl's resurgence is due to the 'ethereal' qualities of the music on our devices - to me, it feels like it all could disappear without a moments' notice. With vinyl, you actually own a little piece of artwork that functions. You can feel it, smell it, see it, learn things from it - all five senses are being stimulated when you have physical music and that is much better than just touching a screen. Having an album in front of you stimulates conversation between friends AND strangers. Interactions about songs on someone's phone usually last about 10 seconds and consist of "I like that song - who sings it?" Having the physical thing in front of you can lead to hours of conversations about the band, the artwork, the artist who designed it, who produced it, who their friends are, who was involved in the making of the album, who the engineer was, etc. "Didn't this producer produce this other artists' album back in 1974?", or "Hey, that engineer did the sound on this other album I love - I need to check out this other musician", etc, etc. I can't begin to tell you the amount of conversations I have heard that lead to unexpected discoveries, education, surprise and genuine joy.  But! If I'm in a hurry or busy, give me my spotify. ha. 

I think the resurgence of record stores (in addition to the physical aspect of the albums they sell) has something to do with our need to be around other people - to socialize, to feel a part of something. We are social animals and need in-person contact and communication. Having a place you can go where you have something in common with the people is pretty cool. Record stores can help provide these things. Our devices can be incredibly helpful but they seem to have made people more isolated and depressed. I think record stores provide people with a place to relax and reconnect. "

1105 Magie Ave

Fairfield, OH 45014

(513) 816-7361

Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00am - 8:00pm


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