When Brad Germain took the leap to start his own business, he shared on his personal Facebook page: “Time is a funny thing. It can get away from you. You have to do the things you want to do in life, and believe in yourself enough to take a chance.” With that spirit, Brad opened up a brand new record store on Locke Street South: Into The Abyss.
Hamilton knows Brad as a prolific local musician who has been part of numerous projects over the years (The Marble Index, Spruce Invaders, The Dinner Belles, Coszmos Quarette). You also know him as a friendly face behind the counter at local record shop Cheapies. Brad takes that all of that experience of working in the music industry into his next venture.
Into The Abyss first launched as a soft opening, with Brad posting the hours daily on the shop’s Instagram. The store received a warm reception right away. In addition to a carefully curated selection of new and used records, they carry clothing and locally made items.
I visited Into The Abyss on an unusually warm September afternoon to chat with Brad and had fun perusing the bins, eventually leaving with The National’s new one Sleep Well Beast along with Caribou’s Our Love, another vinyl that was on my ever-growing wish list.
Read my chat with Brad below!
Kristin: You worked in a record shop for almost 20 years – was it always a dream to one day open your own shop?
Brad: It’s been my dream to open my own store for years, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to sell. Originally I wanted to sell coffee and vegan baked goods, clothes and mugs and old plates, some used records, and a place to host low key shows. But about two years ago I decided that I should focus more on records, seeing how I’m in love with music.
Have you always been a big vinyl collector, yourself?
I’ve never been a record collector, more of an owner and listener. It’s not the rarity of the record that attracts me, but the music itself. I’ve always owned piles of LPs!
What’s the story behind the shop’s name?
I’ve had the store name for years; I’ve always liked the way it sounded in my mind. It’s also true that going into business for yourself is like going into the abyss, into the unknown.
Can you tell us a bit about what else you carry in the shop – the local clothing and handmade items?
The artisanal items in our store are a work in progress. It’s all about working with friends and helping each other out. We have limited space so we have to be careful about what we stock. Sara Froese is a good friend who does amazing printing work at All Sort Press and our bud at Personal Attack makes amazing pins. We’re growing this aspect of the business as we go.
Over the course of your time working in record shops did you foresee vinyl making such a comeback like this?
I was also surprised vinyl came back. I’ve always owned LPs, but I never expected them to get so close to the mainstream. It helps to have a physical attachment to music. Heightens its permanence.
The way people engage with music has changed so much – what do you think about streaming services and their role?
Streaming is here whether we like it or not. I like the fact that it’s portable and in “the cloud” ‘cuz that means it’ll live forever. It does enable people to treat music as a disposable thing, but radio was doing that long before. Top 40 would dictate the trends, but now the listener has more power, but with power comes responsibility.
Do you think people have a greater interest in local record shops, almost as a reaction to everything being digitized? People wanting that human interaction rather than simply downloading at home?
I do think record stores are becoming more important. More people are living isolated lives. People are rejecting the medicine, ‘cuz it makes ya sicker. Spit it out! Come hang with us!
What’s spinning on your turntable right now?
Right now I’m listening to Syrinx a lot, the album Long Lost Relatives. It has been reissued as Tumblers from the Vault (1970-1972) by RVNG INTL. It’s experimental electronic music, and it’s unreal. Also endless George Harrison and John Lennon!
The official Into The Abyss grand opening is this Saturday, Oct. 21st starting at 11 a.m. with refreshments, prizes, and a special sale all day, plus live music from 7-9 p.m. featuring Dan Edmonds, Coszmos Quartette, Ian Daniel Kehoe, and Hazel.
Special thank you to Jonathan Ely Cass for the photography