Stepping into Red Zeppelin Records is something of a culture shock. Located in McKinney town square surrounded by small boutiques and numerous coffee shops, the shop is quickly recognizable by its bright red door, through which customers are immediately faced with a giant, retro-styled mural on the back wall. The space is colorful yet low lit and a mass of band t-shirts on the wall makes the room feel like a merch booth at a rock concert.
In other words, while the rest of the town square feels very white, middle-class and conservative, the Red Zeppelin is a low-key hideaway for anyone with a turntable.
This atmosphere might appear casual to passersby, it was an intentional style choice, according to shop owner Katie Scott, who opened the shop in July last year. Scott said she wanted the store to feel like a “hole in the wall” designed to inspire people’s imagination.
“It makes you feel like it might be in a more urban area in the 80’s,” she said of the store’s aesthetic. “There’s graffiti everywhere, there’s a room where people can go in and write on the walls – kind of dive-y.”
As owner of the Groovy Coop – a vintage fashion and gifts shop on Tennessee St – Scott already had a retail presence in the square. She’d always wanted to open a record shop, she said, and having regulars at the Coop helped her when it came to starting her second business because it gave her a customer base to work with.
Knowing a landlord with a vacant storefront around the corner didn’t hurt, either.
Before Red Zeppelin moved into their current location at 206 E Louisiana St, that space was home to a salsa shop. When the salsa shop closed, Scott said the store’s owner suggested she take over the space.
The long, narrow layout made the space unique, she said, and she instantly knew it had potential.
“I knew that it would be a great record store,” she said.
Starting a business can be tough during a normal year but doing so during a global pandemic seemed particularly daunting, Scott said. By July the lockdown had just been lifted, but retail storefronts were still struggling amid concerns around spreading COVID-19.
But Scott’s concerns quickly vanished, as the shop brought out a veritable flood of customers on opening day thanks to the shop’s social media post on Instagram.
“We were so busy,” she said. “We were so blown away by how many people showed up over that weekend.”
Though the shop also sells products online, the majority of sales still come from in-person shoppers.
Declan Williamson has worked as a desk clerk at Red Zeppelin since the shop opened, and said the store is particularly popular among young music lovers and musicians.
“There’s almost a community and a movement starting to immerge around this small group that we have,” Williamson said. “We have a lot of younger artists who are now playing shows around here, so it’s like a ‘scene.’”
He said he’s noticed vinyl records becoming increasingly popular since lockdown, and believes this trend stems from music fans looking to stay busy.
He’s correct that vinyl sales took off in 2020. LP and EP album sales in the US were the highest they’ve been in decades according to a recent report by Statista, a consumer and market research group. The report showed retail value of vinyl has gradually increased since 2006, with those numbers spiking drastically in 2020. A Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) database found that LP and EP sales in 2020 alone reached $619.6 million – the highest vinyl revenue since 1988.
To read full story click on cover of December 2021 issue.