Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beat Battle

This Wednesday we will be partaking in selling vinyl at the Beat Off at Holocene at 9PM. We're looking forward to the opportunity to meet some new people. The pics on their MYSPACE look awesome and it seems that our friend Graham won last year!

I think it will be a good time and we'll see some sick skills. Here's their description of the competition:

THE BEAT OFF is a live sample based beat battle. each beat maker has one hour to create a beat that is under three minutes long, and uses only the sounds provided. there is a musical theme to each battle. last time the theme was 70s soundtracks. the time before that it was soul samples. all the beat makers who enter have serious balls and serious skills the battle is not bullshit its hard core and that one hour turns the real to really dope.

Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Patience, Anyone?

Admittedly, at the beginning we were a bit naive about how long this process was going to take. After being in business planning mode for 8 months, we thought we'd have no problem finding a space and opening up within three months. Boy were we wrong. It's now been a year and a half and we're still not 100% locked in to a location.

But as we continue, we're realizing that this really is the norm. In April 2008, the Oregonian wrote about a "soon to be open" bar in Portland called Beaker and Flask. It's now been over a year and they still aren't open yet.

Portland Food and Drink
did an interview with the owner a few weeks ago: Interview: Kevin Ludwig of Upcoming Beaker & Flask. They also have a blog but they stopped writing last September. Bummer! I love hearing the juicy details.

And they aren't the only ones that know about waiting. A few months ago a friend suggested we take a look at the blog of a cafe in North Portland. They had been blogging about their experiences of looking for and opening up a shop. The Little Red Bike Cafe documented all their trials and tribulations and I couldn't help but see the parallels to their experiences and ours. They were gracious enough to meet with us a little while ago and let us pick their brains a bit. Bottom line is that it takes a lot of patience and persistence but eventually it will pay off.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Throw Back

It has been almost four years since I left the East Coast and my bartender lifestyle. But this year, thanks largely to my friends on Facebook, images of my former life have come rushing back.

This weekend marks the start of summer, which means that hundreds upon thousands of people will descend upon on a one mile stretch of beach in Delaware known proudly as "the premier party spot for the mid-Atlantic coast."

The small town of Dewey Beach, DE lies dormant for 7 months over the winter only to become the hottest spot around from May to September. I spent every summer that I was in college living and working in this town. After graduating college, my friends and I moved back to the beach and I ended up staying for another year and a half. Some of my friends still haven't left.

My experiences in this town play a large part in my desire to own my own bar. While I was there, I was lucky enough to work and bartend at one of the largest bars in Dewey, the Rusty Rudder.

The Rusty Rudder is a GINORMOUS complex on the bay that has a fine dining restaurant, a club/lounge and an outdoor deck known for the calypso music during the day and the local celebrity cover bands at night. We had 18 bartenders on at a time. Talk about making some good money.

At the time that I worked there, I didn't really know that I wanted to own a bar. I just knew that there had to be something more to life. I went to school for TV production, so in my head, the next logical step was to go to Los Angeles. Looking back, though, all the signs were there that I wanted to be an "owner." Whenever an owner was around I would find myself always trying to be near them and picking their brain.

I am so grateful for my time in Dewey because I learned so much. The owners are truly masters of the bar business; as evidence by the crowds of people that line up to get in to the bars before noon, yes, BEFORE NOON!!!

So this Memorial Day, I say Thank You, Dewey Beach. Here's to another great season.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anatomy of the Hall of Records

These days, I've become a kind of poster child for chasing your dreams and doing what you love. Once Justin and I figured out what we REALLY want to do with our lives I found it so liberating that I want everyone to experience this amazing feeling.

I started consulting to help people with their business plans and to be a general cheerleader for those that want to go in to business for themselves. I'm working on a seminar right now to tackle some of the issues that a lot of people starting out face.

I thought I might use the blog as a testing ground for some of these seminar ideas, the first being, figure out what you really want to do. I think that the best results are yielded from a three step process:

1) make a list of activities from your past AND things you'd love to do (even in your wildest dreams)
2) from that list, make a list of some of the problems or needs of these activities
3) create new businesses by solving the problem or filling the need

The need can be as simple as your part of town needs a _____________ (fill in the blank).

When I asked Justin what he really wanted to do in life, he had already achieved his one true dream, which was to tour the world playing drums in a band (He toured Asia and South America with a top 40 band in the early part of the 2000's). He said that his second dream was to own a record store.

I asked myself the same question and said I always wanted to own a bar. I had worked in the bar business for 8 years and always found myself approaching the owners, picking their brains.

Now comes part two:
What are some of the problems with a record store? Well, for one, they are closing at alarming rates. The profit potential on a record is half of regular retail and a quarter of a restaurant profit. Simply put, a lot of stores can't afford to be in business.

So we came up with a solution. We needed an additional revenue stream in order to keep the record store afloat. By combining a record store with a bar, we can preserve the community and educational aspect of the record store by selling beer, wine, coffee and food. In fact, it will even ENHANCE the community feeling of the store.

I strongly believe that if you solve a problem or fill a need with your business, it gives you that much more motivation to see it through.

And the best part about doing this little exercise is that we figured out even more businesses to create down the road. We didn't stop with just a record store and a bar. We kept adding to the list and came up with four or five businesses that we didn't even know we had any passion for!

I can't wait to fulfill all of them and to help others along the way!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Location Lead

At the party on Friday we met two guys in an interesting situation. They have been renting out a building off SE Milwaukee they use as an art studio/workshop. It seems they have upwards of 50 people all working in the studios yet they have no place close to eat. The building is GIGANTIC and they have been contemplating putting in a commercial kitchen so as to feed these artists. The idea is to bring in a caterer/restauranteur/coffee shop owner and let them open up shop.

So when we met them and told them we were looking for a place, the idea developed that maybe we could be those people. We took a drive down the next day to check out the situation. The building's in a great spot that seems to get a lot of foot traffic. The only problem is that it's definitely a warehouse/industrial building. There's no glass line; no real retail look to it at all.

It's definitely going to be an uphill battle to try to turn an industrial building into street retail with an A2 Occupancy (coffee shop). It may still be worth pursuing, though, because the main guy is super motivated and seems to have a great business sense. I love meeting people like this. He's got a real collaborative attitude and likes to help others succeed.

So if it doesn't lead anywhere, at least we met some cool, business-minded people. Plus we ended up discovering a totally awesome park with hiking trails:

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

Friday night was a blast! So many people came out to support. It was a gorgeous night and having the doors open and the music pumping even brought in people from the streets. I talked to one guy who said people were going back and forth between the Blue Monk across the street and our party. Even the DJ from across the street came over to see what was going on!

We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out! We couldn't do this without you.

Justin made a new video in iMovie! (Best with Volume Up)

Hall of Records: Wax Broker Riot Vinyl Sale/DJ Night Portland, OR May 15, 2009 from Justin Meyer on Vimeo.

We're also thinking and planning ways to expand and progress our business. These parties have really shown us that we can attract a lot of people and that a lot of people know about us. This makes us want our store already. But we know that patience will pay off.

We met a guy at the party who has a potential location for us near Sellwood. So we'll explore that road and see where it takes us. On the other hand, we have found a space we love, closer to home, that is just going to take some time to pan out.

So we'll see. We know what we want and we're trusting our instincts (and patience) to get us there.

The Optimists Creed:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Super Pumped

Tomorrow is our third Wax Broker Riot Party and we are so pumped for it!! The parties so far have grown exponentially and we can't wait to see what tomorrow night will bring. We're bringing in a few more record dealers to widen the music genres as well as a few more DJs to spin their flavor.

Justin's been working hard to add to our music collection. For those of you who don't quite know his taste, you can check out his blog, Dusty Nuggets. Our resident DJ and partner, Dameian, also just put out a new blog posting here: MONORAIL

Our living room is starting to look like a record store.

We are also so excited and grateful because our friend base has grown so much in the 9 months since we've lived here. Every single person is so special to us. They add to the ever continuing excitement of our lives and we are so happy and excited for the opportunity to add to it.

Last weekend we threw our friend Alli a "Pregnant with Possibilities" party to celebrate her 9 month anniversary of being on Unemployment. She created a "Pin the Motivational Quote on Alli Game" and it made the night. We strive to have this much fun every day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Sign

So there's this sign. It's sitting on NE Sandy & 38th looking very lonely. Looking like someone should rescue it.

It seems that once upon a time there was a record store there called Yesterday's Records. From what I gather, the store and it's owner, Bob Gallucci, were there for a very long time. In 2006, the lease was up for renewal and the dog grooming place next door apparently offered the owners three times the rent to take it over. That was the end of the record store.

But for some reason, the sign has remained! It's been catching my eye for months. I don't know why they would leave it, unless there is some structural issue. Or maybe they just like it.

I'm thinking about inquiring about it. Thanks to Portlandmaps I know who owns the building. I also did some digging and it seems that the old owner of the record store is coaching football at a local high school. One that just happens to be in our neighborhood.

I think I'm going to mull this over and just see what happens. I love the idea of restoring a piece of Portland history. Maybe the parties involved will think so to.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Almost every day we have some sort of experience that reinforces our concept and our commitment to it. I had a 20 minute conversation this morning with a sales guy at Urban Outfitters about how their USB turntables are selling like hot cakes and every single one of his friends in a band is pushing vinyl more than CDs at their shows.

Our good friend Dave sent us this article about the real reasons why restaurants succeed and fail. They highlight a local restaurant, Fire on the Mountain, and talk about how in addition to experience, two things really stand out; passion and a well thought-out plan.

"Restaurant owners weren't failing because they had ill-defined competitive strategies. They weren't failing because they lacked access to capital, or because they chose poor locations, either. (These are factors, Parsa says, just not typically make-or-break ones.) Rather, the single most critical element of a restaurant's success, Parsa says, is the presence of a distinctive, well-researched concept. This insight is, admittedly, a bit of an anticlimax. The importance of a concept seems like it would be obvious to anyone prepared to invest thousands of dollars in said concept. As it turns out? Not so much.

When asked to describe their concept, failed restaurant owners answered "vegetarian food" or "Alaskan seafood"—when pressed, and they couldn't expand their description beyond food production.

In contrast, the successful restaurant owners could describe, in detail, an entire operating philosophy encompassing everything—the ambiance, the service, the decor—not just the food."

Well, we're nothing if we aren't detailed. People that have read our business plan say it's the most detailed one they have ever seen. From ambiance to service to cleanliness to "the feeling people get when they walk through the door;" we know exactly what we're going for. We're creating a social environment for people to listen and discover new music; converse and share over a coffee or beer; and enjoy the music that ties it all together.

And all signs point to this being a viable and necessary business model. Just last week an article came out that I can not wait to validate.

An Ode to the Disappearing Record Store. Please note the last sentence.