Holiday buying season is upon us. Consumers rejoice! If you're a hipster -- and we know we are -- Christmas means you're going to be giving a lot of people a lot of really obscure, ultra-in CDs they'll probably never listen to. For this, we admit, it's easiest to hit All Music Guide then Amazon.com or InSound.com. But let's not forget that, only a few Christmases ago, the only way to get great indie releases was to go to your neighborhood indie record store.
Despite what Reaganomics teach, supporting local businesses is the real trickle-down. And it insures that people in our community end up having a happy new year. This Christmas, then, along with your holiday shopping, give your local independent record store the gift of profits. It's not going to kill you, just do it.
To help massage your newfound conscience, we've polled most of the record stores in the area (including you Sandpoint and you, too, Moscow) to see who's got the deepest, most eclectic selection. Read our little summary of each store (sorted alphabetically, and by town), then head to page 50 to see how each joint fared in our randomly selected and highly unscientific indie/undie CD poll.
4,000 Holes 1610 N. Monroe St., Spokane & r & (509) 325-1914 & r & With a brand new location, 4,000 Holes is bigger than ever with more CDs, records and everything else under the sun. Obscure Beatles releases count among their biggest sellers. The self-described premier rock n' roll superstore, the shop specializes in all things rock. It could be time for a name change though, because there are clearly more than 4,000 albums for sale. Special orders are welcome.
Recorded Memories 1902 N. Hamilton St., Spokane & r & (509) 483-4753 & r & Owner Richard Terzieff tells me that his store is one of the longest standing indie stores in the area with at least 20 cumulative years in business. Super-fast special order turnaround times has made his store a lifesaver for people scrambling to find music for weddings -- and even funerals. Most genres are represented, but they mainly focus on rockabilly, heavy metal/'80s rock and '50s rock. Both CDs and vinyl are available, and Terzieff also tells me his store has the best selection of cassettes in the region.
Unified Groove Merchants 2607 N. Monroe St., Spokane & r & (509) 326-4842 & r & Wax lovers Heaven! Purveyors of copious amounts of vinyl in genres across the board. Rock/Pop, Jazz, Blues, Soul, Hip-Hop, Indie, Punk, Noise, you name it. The store also has a wide enough CD selection to keep the digital amongst us sated. There's a local show space in the back. And yes, the rumors are true: The Beastie Boys' King Ad-Rock recently swooped in on co-owner Breezy Browns' beat shop digging for records. We're fairly certain that means the store has been freshly minted. Taking second place to The Long Ear in a nail-bitingly close race, our highly unscientific, utterly capricious poll names Unified Groove Merchants the unquestioned choice for rare and pretentious crap in Spokane.
The Long Ear 2405 N. 4th St., Coeur D'Alene & r & (208) 765-3472 & r & From what we could gather, the store was started by a couple of entrepreneurial hippies, which is pretty cool. Entrepreneurship and hippiedom are often mutually exclusive. When they come together, though, sparks can fly. That's definitely the case here. A local juggernaut, the Long Ear has been in business for 32 years. The store carries CDs in every genre imaginable, and manager Nic Fritze convinces me that the racks are only getting bigger. Judging by how many times our conversation got interrupted so he could ring up customers, we'd say the store is going to be around for a long time. The Long Ear was the only record store we polled that stocked every trendy, obscure record we could throw at it, and thus is unquestionably our 2005 CD selection champion.
Mt. Olympus 2500 N. 4th St., Coeur D'Alene & r & Before starting Mt. Olympus, owner Ron Johnston previously owned Coeur d'Alene's Tunes To Go. The shop has a plethora of records and just as many CDs. All genres represented here, though Johnston has a penchant for rare imports and progressive music of all sorts. For vinyl junkies east of the border, Mt. Olympus is the joint.
Main St. Music & Game 111 A Main St., Sandpoint & r & (208) 255-5851 & r & More of second-hand music store, they're still down to special order any CD your little heart desires. Most genres are covered, and Main St. has plenty of records, a fair amount of CDs, it doubles as a local guitar and music equipment shop, and triples as a good place to buy video games. In business since 2002, local guitar legend/day manager Josh Hedlund tells me that Viggo Mortensen loves to stop by when he's in town on down time from battling the hordes of Mordor.
Paradise Ridge 117 E. 3rd St., Moscow & r & (208) 882-1670 & r & Owner Dave Williams has been in Moscow 15 odd years now hawking premium rock, jazz, folk, celtic, blues and hip-hop. Primarily a CD store, Williams fears the fallout from the digital revolution could have him singing for his supper. But he has enough regulars and like-minded individuals who want to support local business, as well as music and the arts, that he doesn't plan on looking for any other work anytime soon. We wish you the best of luck Dave, keep fighting the good fight!
Also worth checking out: Boo Radley's, Righteous Rags and Records and Realside Records, both in Spokane; and Ear Candy and Rockin' Rudie's, nestled in Missoula, Mont.
Worth ignoring: Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, etc.