Vinyl lovers have a new place to shop in Oakland. A new vinyl-focused record store, Econo Jam Records, celebrates its grand opening in Uptown today, from 2-10 p.m. Located at 2519 Telegraph Avenue, the 1,000-square-foot shop run by former Amoeba Records employee Tom O’Shaughnessy doesn’t have a niche focus but will instead feature many genres.
O’Shaughnessy said the store is the culmination of a ten-year-plus-long dream. Ten years ago he started a small punk distro, Sedition Records, while living in Reno — essentially a crate of records he'd bring to house shows. He said his operation grew slowly as he moved around the country. He took a brief break around 2007, but after moving to the East Bay about five and a half years ago, he re-launched his efforts, with the goal of opening a store. O’Shaughnessy added that his former employer, Amoeba, has been “super supportive” of his endeavor and even helped him out with a few record bins.
Econo Jam joins fellow vinyl-focused East Bay record stores like 1-2-3-4 Go!, Stranded, Vamp, and Dave’s Record Shop that have opened in recent years, responding to the continuing rise in popularity in vinyl records — at the same time that CD sales have steadily declined. Nielsen SoundScan’s mid-year report showed that vinyl sales were up 33.5 percent in the first six months of 2013, compared to the first six months of 2012. Meanwhile, vinyl sales are at their highest level in twelve years in the UK, according to The Telegraph. Overall, however, vinyl is still a niche market and only makes up a fraction of overall music sales.
Still, O’Shaughnessy feels positive about the trends and hopeful about the future of his store in Oakland. “I’ve been saying for years that vinyl is a more fun and exciting format and it’s for a more dedicated crowd,” he said. “It’s just more interesting to me. Sales for vinyl have been going up for years and years while CDs are declining. So it seemed like an opportune time, and I found a nice big space at a great location on Telegraph right in the middle of all the First Friday events. … Getting to know the community around here has been incredible. … There’s a lot going on around here these few blocks.”
To celebrate the opening, Econo Jam will be open from 2-10 p.m. today and tomorrow, with DJs and special discounts for customers wearing Halloween costumes (extra points if your pet is dressed up, too). Today, Matt Thompson of 333 Recordings will spin post-punk and synth; tomorrow, Chris Thomson of Monorchid and Circus Lupus will spin rare punk from 7-9:30 p.m. Among the records O’Shaughnessy said you can currently find in the store: a rare copy of Swans’ White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, DEVO’s Hardcore volumes one and two from Superior Viaduct, and a seven-picture-disc boxset from French black-metal band Deathspell Omega.
Oh, and as for the store’s name, O’Shaughnessy said, yes, he’s a fan of The Minutemen, but it’s more than just homage: “I’m a fan of the whole concept behind what [Minutemen bassist/vocalist Mike] Watt and [Minutemen guitarist/vocalist D.] Boon were talking about — doing things intentionally in a smart way where you’re not blowing a whole bunch of money without thinking about it. You use your community rather than going outside first when you’re looking for help. The whole DIY aspect of it.”
Econo Jam Records
2519 Telegraph Avenue @ 25th Street
Hours: Daily, 1-8 p.m.