Spoonful Records thriving downtownBusiness Profiles — By Melanie McIntyre on December 18, 2012 at 8:00 am
It’s a familiar story− a young professional bored with their current job decides to go into business for themself. However, the way Brett Ruland went about choosing his entrepreneurial path is a bit unusual.
He filled up a piece of notebook paper with job ideas. But none of them seemed to jump off the page. Instead, it was a suggestion from his girlfriend that got the ball rolling.
“Why don’t you open a record store?” she asked.
Ruland thought it was a genius idea, especially in light of how popular vinyl records had become again, so he opened Spoonful Records at 116 E. Long St. in summer 2010.
“There is such great energy downtown,” he says. “I wanted to be located near the Columbus College of Art & Design, where I went to school, and the Columbus Museum of Art, where I worked for over a dozen years.”
Plus, the store’s proximity to LC Pavilion has made it a destination for several famous musicians.
“We’ve had The Shins, Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, and Robert Pollard of Guided by voices, to name a few,” Ruland says.
The 900-square-foot store has about 10,000 records at the moment. Rock, soul, jazz, punk, metal, and hip-hop are just some of the genres customers can expect to find there.
Also, live performances by local artists, such as Nick Tolford, and international artists, such as Gabby Young, are not unusual occurrences.
To learn why he’s working at least 60 hours a week, how Spoonful keeps up with customers, and which celebrities have stopped into the store, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: Why did you decide to use the shop as a performance venue?
Brett Ruland: When I designed the shop I put all of the record bins on wheels, so that I could rearrange the store and transform it into a performance space. I love seeing bands play at clubs so I thought, “Why not have them at Spoonful?” Record stores are known for great places to help launch the careers of bands.
[M]: When you opened the shop, you said you’d like to use it to support your record label, Spoonful Records. Was that something you’ve been able to do?
BR: Yes, this year we released a band called Sundown on our label. The store has helped promote the record and the record sales have helped to support the store.
[M]: Seeing as you’d already owned a record label, you weren’t a new entrepreneur when you opened the shop. However, a recording label and a retail store are different kinds of ventures. Was there anything about owning retail operation that surprised you or challenged you in a way you hadn’t been challenged before?
BR: Yes, owning a store is a totally different beast. While running the label I only had to think about the bands I released and how to promote them. Now I have to research bands and distributors and try to keep track of all of the latest greatest things that are available on vinyl. New bands are forming every single day and it’s a lot to keep track of.
Also, the commitment it takes to run a business should never be underestimated. I put in around 60 hours a week at the store, and that doesn’t include the house calls to look at record collections.
[M]: When you were getting the shop off the ground, what resources −people, websites, organizations, etc. −were the most helpful to you?
BR: Columbus Underground was the first to notice that we were opening a record store. That started the buzz and helped to spread the word door to door. We immediately put together a Facebook page and that has been a good way to keep in touch with our customers on a daily basis.
[M]: What advice would you give a new entrepreneur?
BR: Figure out what it is that you love to do. And do it. Better than anyone else can.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
BR: Come to Spoonful for the vinyl and stay for the free pinball.
To learn more about Spoonful Records, visit Facebook.com/SpoonfulRecords.
Melanie McIntyre served as editorial director of The Metropreneur from its launch in August 2010 to May 2013. She is also a featured writer for Columbus Underground and writes about fashion, style and pop culture on her blog, Thoroughly Modern Melly. Melanie is an Ohio State University graduate, lives in the Short North, and enjoys reading and running.
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