EDMONDS — Rachel Gardner was born in the back of a music shop. Now she’s opening one of her own in Edmonds.
Musicology Co. opened Feb. 1 at 420 Fifth Ave. S., Suite 107, the former home of jewelry store Elegant Gems.
Her record shop/music boutique houses close to 4,000 records in stock on top of CDs, band merchandise, consignment instruments and anything local artists are selling to support their work, Gardner said.
She also plans to open an online store.
The 45-year-old Edmonds resident said her shop is about much more than making a profit. She wants it to be “something that honors music in general.”
It’s intended to be a place where musicians can connect directly with fans. A wooden platform in one corner serves as a stage for open mics, solo performances and workshops. In another corner, there’s a table for artists to use for album release parties, autograph signings and other meet-and-greets. Gardner’s goal is to build a resource for local musicians and draw them to Edmonds.
“We have several arts boutiques (in Edmonds), and a lot of the focus is on fine arts,” Gardner said. “But as an arts community, music should be a big part of that.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Liz Dawson, director of programming and communications for the Edmonds Center for the Arts. While the center is a hub for the performing arts, she said the city could use a shop dedicated to music.
“There really isn’t a space, certainly in downtown Edmonds, that’s purely dedicated to live music and supporting local musicians,” Dawson said. “So this will be filling a gap.”
With the number of vintage shops in the area, Dawson is surprised a new record shop hadn’t opened in Edmonds sooner. After opening, Musicology Co. became the city’s only store primarily devoted to records, said Ryan Crowther, president and CEO of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. He said it’s been a long time since a record shop operated in Edmonds and believes the demand is there for one from residents.
“It’s a great time for a record store in Edmonds,” Crowther said, and it “definitely helps bring more of that music element into the community.”
Gardner isn’t going into this business venture alone. Elizabeth Murray, 37, of Edmonds, is a minority owner, along with both of their husbands. The two women are members of The Band LeLe, which formed in 2018 after Gardner made a Facebook post looking for fellow musicians interested in starting a band.
In December, Gardner pitched her idea for the record shop to Murray. Then, a few weeks later, she asked if Murray wanted to get involved.
“Rachel is a go-getter. That’s one of the things I love about her,” Murray said, adding that Musicology Co. is “definitely a passion project for Rachel” and that the business “will be a really nice place for people to get acquainted with new music and also discover older stuff.”
Gardner’s passion for music was sparked at an early age as the daughter of two “musician hippie parents.” Her mother is a flutist and her father, Barney McClure, is a jazz pianist who decades ago helped establish Jazz Port Townsend, an annual weeklong jazz festival that attracts some of the biggest names in the genre. Gardner was born in the back of a music store in that seaport city on the Olympic Peninsula, where her father once served as mayor.
“My mom was very adamant about having a home birth,” she said.
While she loves music, Gardner never wanted to become a professional musician. Growing up, her family was on the road a lot and she witnessed how much they and others in the industry struggled to make a living.
“I saw such a different side of it, which was how hard they all worked constantly,” Gardner said. So for the past two decades, she has worked in e-commerce and corporate retail while making music in her free time. She plays bass in two bands, volunteers with the Edmonds Arts Festival and is an arts columnist for MyEdmondsNews.com. She also writes songbooks, such as “Bawdy Ballads and Salty Songs for the Ukulele.”
Musicology Co. is another side gig for Gardner, and she plans to hire a couple of people to run the store. The shop’s records will typically sell for $3 to $50, with most sourced from Gardner’s collection, local DJs, Facebook groups for vinyl enthusiasts and the Clinton Sprinklz ice cream parlor on Whidbey Island that closed in December.
Gardner wants her boutique to have a ’70s glam aesthetic and feel like a recording studio of that era.
Furniture painted gold and a leopard print couch complete the look. She also envisions having a wall in the store filled with autographed photos of every musician who visits. If Gardner could have anyone stop by, it would be Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, who she shares a birthday with. Other big names on her wish list are members of the rock bands Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie and Foo Fighters.
“I would love this to be a destination for every musician who comes to Edmonds to stop in,” Gardner said. “And I want to keep growing so that when people stop by, they want to come and put their face on the wall.”