“I think every city in America should have a record store,” Travis Harvey, owner of Village Green Records (VGR) said.
Harvey started out as a business associate to the record store in 2006, but slowly found himself imagining what the store could be – which consisted of five or six crates of classic records at the time.
“I had a sort of different kind of vision for the store,” Harvey said. “There were definitely qualities about it that I wanted to carry over, but that [also included] affordable records, kind of quirky stuff and hosting shows.”
The five to six crates of classics has morphed into a home filled floor to ceiling in albums, records, and compact discs over the last 10 years. Not only is the house covered in music, but it exudes the feeling of music as well.
“The atmosphere is always welcoming,” Erik Nelson, a junior marketing major at Ball State, said. “[It’s] very enjoyable to walk in to the music playing.”
VGR will be hosting their last concert May 14th to spread local support for Muncie musicians. There will also be handmade clothing by BS Limited, and food brought by the Food Vault Food truck.
Schedule is subject to change:
Dark Ages Music Group - 1:30
Drake Turner - 2:00
Blake Mellencamp - 2:30
Bachka - 3:00
OM - noon - 3:30
Audio Discrapencies - 4:00
JimmyJazz - 4:45
Gutter Punk - 5:30
Natural - 6:15
Clint Breeze - 6:45
Parker Pickett - 7:30
Daniel Clevenger - 8:00
Night Gangs - 8:40
Shipwreck Karpathos / David Ambient Set - 9:20
Deathtax - 10:00
Moon Goons - 10:35
Harvey said when he went into the “small business venture” he didn’t realize the way his business affected people in the Muncie community.
Nor did he consider how the shop, the types of records he recommended, and the conversations he would have would create an overall sense of belonging, “a home away from home, and a sense of community and safety even.”
“It's important to me to create a safe space that invites everyone in, but until you're told by someone ‘I came to your store and it was more meaningful than going to a therapist’... I can't deny the gravity of something like that.” Harvey said.
In an attempt to expand customers’ music tastes, Harvey said he feels connections are made through music.
“Having records and dealing with music, I think if you are connecting to someone on a level that's a little bit more intimate — maybe even vulnerable,” Harvey said. "I kind of confront people and try to really expand their tastes. I try to expose them to new things and by doing that, I think that connection is made a little bit more personal.”
Celeste Outen, VGR employee, said she has met so many “cool cats” over the last few months working at the house, including “some awesome regulars” and “some first-timers.”
“I love chatting with people about the music they like, and making recommendations for new music,” Outen said. “I always love to hear when people are browsing, and find an artist they love on the racks. I know that feeling, it's affirming and assuring and just gives you a sense of belonging.”
Nelson said VGR was great when he wanted to invest in more records and find new music.
VGR has always been Nelson’s stop for vinyl records and hard copies. Without them, Nelson said the closure might result in him buying fewer records because when he did, “I would most likely go to VGR for them.”
“[Harvey is] very knowledgeable and always looking to give or share suggestions,” Nelson said. “Every interaction I had with [Harvey,] I left thinking about new things I had never considered. It helps acknowledge the impact he had on every customer.”
Harvey said he appreciates the support that he’s been given by VGR’s regulars, the community, and “people that have had a special relationship with Village Green records over the years.”
“I don't want to leave all that,” Harvey said. “This decision isn’t rooted in a distaste or a disenchantment with Muncie, but it's just, it's time.”
Harvey said moving is something he and his partner have been thinking about for a while. His partner, Sarah, “has always had an interest in Montgomery, Alabama.”
“I didn't want to see Muncie go as a town without a record store, and likewise, I don't want to see somewhere like Montgomery, Alabama being without a record store,” Harvey said. “Right now, they don't have a record store, so it's the perfect opportunity for me to go down there.”
As for Muncie, Harvey said he hopes to expand VGR to reach a wider audience, but also “keep in touch with the people in Central Indiana and regulars to, in any way we can, continue to nourish and provide cool, exciting new music to people.”
Harvey said community members wanting to stay in touch and seek new music from VGR are now able to subscribe to its Patreon — where Harvey is able to analyze a customer's musical preferences and curate a package of hand-picked vinyls, CDs, and more.
When it comes to a local VGR storefront, Harvey said he doesn’t want to leave Muncie “high and dry.”
“I also have been working with one of our team members, Celeste, in helping her learn about the process of running a record store,” Harvey said. “[Teaching her] everything that I've come to learn through my experiences, with the goal of her continuing her own record store here in this very location.”
Outen believes that independent record stores are a hub for culture — providing a space for local musicians to develop and showcase their talent.
"Music needs to have a physical space to live, and a physical medium to be played,” Outen said. “Keeping a record store in town is essential for campus and Muncie as a whole.”
According to Outen, Harvey has taken her “under his wing” to teach her “the ins and outs of running a record store.”
“[Harvey has] given me the opportunity to get hands-on experience, the knowledge he's passed on is immeasurable,” said Outen. “He also has so much confidence in my abilities, which is so empowering because he is the human music encyclopedia.”
Outen said she has full intentions of keeping a record store open for the Muncie and Ball State community called Locked Groove Records.
“I am still in the process of securing funding to purchase a POS system, record-cleaning machine, and a mural or signage for the new store — plus a million other things Locked Groove Records will need to start.” Outen said.
While currently working with a few lenders, Outen plans to secure a small business loan for start-up expenses.
Expenses aside, Outen hopes to establish good habits with bookkeeping, “to make sure Locked Groove Records has a strong foundation to stick around Muncie for a long time.”
“Eventually, once I feel like I am at a good point in the process, I will make an announcement on social media [and] do some crowdfunding as well,” Outen said. “There will be other ways to support that don't require money. I have a plan, that I am taking one step at a time.”
Contact Kamryn Tomlinson with comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kamrynwrites.