EVERETT — Success for Ryan Taylor and Brooks Smothers would mean a six-foot folding table and, if sales really take off, an eight-footer.
The two partners recently launched Upper Left Records, a pop-up store that sells new vinyl records.
“Our store is a four-foot table. We’re just going to be a little pop-up table,” Smothers said.
“We’re starting small, but our goal is to grow to a six-foot and then an eight-foot table,” Smothers said.
The two friends, who share a love of music, were camping with their families in June. Over a campfire, they began musing about how rare it is to find places in Everett that sell new records.
“I said, ‘Let’s do a little research and see if this is viable,’” Smothers said.
What they found is that recent music industry studies suggest that vinyl records are having a resurgence.
Although streaming services account for 80% of music sales, record album sales topped 1.2 million in the week ending December 26, the highest number since Nielsen Music, a market research group, began following weekly sales in 1991, according to online magazine Mental Floss.
“For the first time since the 1990s record sales are on track to outpace CD sales,” Taylor said.
The forecast reverberated.
“We are two guys who like vinyl records and we saw a need in our community,” Smothers said. “We decided to give it a go.”
Since then, they’ve drawn up a business plan for their part-time venture and begun working on inventory.
“We decided to forgo a brick-and-mortar space,” Taylor said. “When we asked ourselves what can we can do to generate business and have a deep connection with the city, the answer was to partner with local businesses to host a pop-up store.”
When things get rolling — their first pop-up event will coincide with National Record Store Day on Aug. 29 — they’ll stock albums from Snohomish County bands, including Oliver Elf Army (Everett), Fretland (Snohomish), Tellers (Everett), Now and Not Yet (Everett), The Lowdown Drifters (Stanwood) and The Moondoggies (Everett).
They will also offer reissues of classic recordings of artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Patsy Cline from Detroit’s Third Man Pressing, along with new titles from Sub Pop Records, a Pacific Northwest label that made its mark with grunge bands, signing Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney in the late 1980s.
Smothers and Taylor are banking on two groups to boost sales: the over-40 crowd that grew up with records, and the younger generation of Millennials and Gen Z’s that have discovered the pleasures of vinyl and full-scale album art.
“I’m a remote worker,” said Taylor. “I listen to digital music all day. But vinyl is really special. When I put my records on, I’m sitting down and reading the liner notes and enjoying the amazing art.”
They won’t sell turntables, but Taylor or Smothers can suggest a couple models and brands.
Oh, and the name Upper Left Records?
“That is a nod to our physical geography,” Smothers said. “We live in the upper left corner of the United States.”
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods
Upper Left Records’ first pop-up appearance will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Toggles Bottle Shop, 1420 Hewitt Ave., Everett.
A second pop-up event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 30 at Narrative Coffee, 2927 Wetmore Ave., Everett.
Follow them on Instagram @UpperLeftRecords and Twitter: @RecordsLeft.