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ReTales: Sanders Chase, Owner of The Record Collector

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Sanders Chase is pro analog. Just ask him. The History Channel spent eight hours chatting with Chase last week, filming a special about his shop, The Record Collector, which will air sometime in late November. “It’s the history of records through our eyes.” said Chase. “This is the oldest record store in town. This is our specialty. I gave them the dissertation of the past, present, and future of records and their place in our culture, the value it has. A sound wave is analog, not digital. When you make it digital you turn it into a bunch of 1’s and 0’s.” His love for records is about “maintaining the integrity of the original music.” The 3,400-square-feet of retail space contains—wait for it—500,000 rare records. And Chase has another 300,000 locked in a warehouse on his personal property. So, with over three quarters of a million records in his possession, it's a safe bet that Chase will have what you’re looking for.

Why this store, here on Melrose?
After 25 years on Highland, we needed our own place and decided to own our own building. We had half a million records, so it was much cheaper to buy [retail space] than to rent. We’ve been at this location for ten years. I made Ed Hardy. The location he picked on the corner, he selected that store because our store was famously known. We brought our own glitz. We attracted Christian Audigier. He set out to make a strike, he chose that location and did well. There were some crummy places [on Melrose], but he figured it was good enough for The Record Collector.

What’s been flying off the shelves?
Well, we don’t sell hip-hop, dance, trance, disco. We sell adult. Spoken world, jazz. Old school, new school. This is Michael Jackson’s favorite record shop. Last time he was here he bought 31 Harry Belafonte records. We have 300,000 classic jazz records. We have anything you want. If it’s good, we sell it. We have vintage rock, that sells well.

What are you most excited about in-store right now that maybe isn’t flying off the shelves?
Our good stuff is in the back. I give tours because people don’t know we have 3,400 square feet of records. My business model is if you build it they will come. We hook people. We recommend artists to get people started.

You have $100 to shop anywhere in L.A.—where do you go?
The Record Collector! You spend $100 and get $1,000 worth of joy.

Make it $1,000.
The Record Collector! You’d get $10,000 worth of joy. The right music expands your intellectual capacity. Ten minutes of Mozart boosts your IQ. It opens up your synapses and you’re more responsive to information.

Do you carry any Heidi Montag Records?
Heidi who?

No, I don’t. Our collection sort of stops around the 1980s. We don’t have anything super current. Some classify us as old school. But without the past we have no future. Our specialty is illuminating the past so we have something to build on.