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After a decade in the banking industry, Manuel Gemperli decided to quit his day job and follow his passion for music. Along with his wife, Kimberly, the couple opened up 22 Sound, just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans in Mandeville, La. in 2021.
Manuel and Kimberly’s goal was to open a music store that is constantly evolving, celebrating music that is fresh as well as classic. 22 Sound is a place to explore, discover, listen, and most importantly, celebrate music.
22 Sound is truly a family affair. In addition to Manuel and Kimberly, the store is staffed by Manuel’s brother and sister-in-law, Stewart Dowouis and Kate Rohm. Their collective love of music has led to a store where customers can truly discover something new. Their outlook is that vinyl records aren't a retro accessory, but a tried-and-true way to capture and preserve music while also providing a physical connection to the artist and their art.
Owner: Manuel Gemperli
Address: 5200 LA-22, Mandeville, LA 70471
A few hours drive south from the Bay Area on the Pacific Coast Highway will land you in Monterey, a quaint coastal town with a deep music history, including its home of the iconic Monterey Jazz Festival.
Located just a few blocks from the festival's home is Siren Records, which is a destination for music lovers throughout California's Central Coast. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Siren Records boasts a collection of over 20,000 LPs, plus hundreds of cassettes and CDs, posters and turntable accessories.
Owners Chuck and Lorain Nicholson stay engaged with their fans via social media, posting reoccuring content across the Siren channels, including Fresh Catch Fridays, which features the staff's picks of the week.
Owner: Chuck and Lorain Nicholson
Address: 527 Ramona Ave, Monterey, CA 93940
Celebrating its 20th anniversary under current management this year, T-Bone’s Records & Café has been a gathering place for the Hattiesburg, Mississippi community since 1999.
As any indie retail business can attest, much has changed over the past 20 years, but T-Bones owner Harry Crumpler III and his family have worked tirelessly to maintain the consistency and quality of its offerings. A member of CIMS (Coalition of Independent Music Stores), T-Bones aims to offer the same level of product availability and knowledge that customers may find in larger cities while staying true to its small-town roots in being on a first-name basis with most of the customers.
“Our location in a college city in South Mississippi and a renowned retirement community allows our employees to serve a wide swath of people,” says Crumpler. “As the industry has altered its course, T-Bones has done so as well - working to use our online resources for promotion, audience building, and even sales.”
In addition to LPs, CDs, and books, T-Bones also serves up coffee, sandwiches, house-made desserts and even its own brand of Cold-Brewed Coffee made in-house daily. T-Bones’ café and record store are bound together and you’ll often find hungry customers flipping through vinyl while waiting for their food.
T-Bones Records & Cafe
Owner: Henry Crumpler III
Manager: Mik Davis
Address: 2101 Hardy St, Hattiesburg, MS 39401
G.I. Sanders founded NTX (North Texas) Vinyl three years ago as an outpost inside a suburban Dallas antique mall. Initially, NTX Vinyl's offers were "An extension of me and my collecting," Sanders recently told The Sound of Safe & Sound Texas. A year into running NTX vinyl, the pandemic hit and while that presented the same challenge to Sanders that all stores faced, he saw it as an opportunity to expand into online sales.
Shifting to online sales "was a game-changer and an eye-opener," said Sanders. "Retail shut down and I remember thinking 'maybe that's it.' My last-ditch effort was to double-down on doing online stuff and that's really what set fire to the whole thing because that expanded my audience so much and at the same time you had all these people stuck at home, looking for things to do and records became a thing again in a lot of people's eyes.
"The demand has skyrocketed since then and isn't stopping at all."
As in-person commerce began returning, Sanders piggybacked off his success selling online to continue the growth of NTX Vinyl's presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. NTX now boasts three locations around the DFW Metroplex - Highland Village, Frisco and North Richland Hills.
As odd as it may sound, the pandemic may have helped NXT's business, as it forced Sanders to think innovatively about selling records online.
"The exponential growth for the brand of NTX Vinyl, I can't understate how important that is (doubling-down with a digital strategy and online presence) to the story of what's got me to where I am. If retail hadn't shut down, I don't know how long it would have taken me to build that online presence."
NTX Vinyl - Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex
Owner: G.I. Sanders
Address: Three DFW Locations