Music News

Here's How Denver Record Stores Are Reopening for Business

Twist & Shout will open for curbside business on Monday, May 11.
Twist & Shout will open for curbside business on Monday, May 11. Michael Emery Hecker
On Thursday, May 7, the folks at Twist & Shout turned on the record store’s phones for the first time in nearly two months. Owner Paul Epstein says it started ringing immediately, with customers wanting to order music for curbside orders, which the store will start taking on Monday, May 11.

“My feeling is people are hungry for something normal again,” he says. “We can't give them normal yet. You're going to have to wait and work with us on this fear. We're all going have to kind of crawl our way back and figure out what normal is again.”

Epstein says he’s not exactly sure when Twist & Shout will let customers inside the store, but he'll be looking hard at science and medicine and talking to his employees.

“We're going to be super slow, super careful and make sure everything works before we do it,” he says. “We're not going to just throw stuff at the wall and see what happens."

Twist & Shout received help from the government's CARES Act that will allow the shop to bring back some employees as well as pay rent and utilities for two months. The store has already had orders for the new Lucinda Williams and Jason Isbell albums for locals who will come pick them up. While Epstein says online sales is only a tiny fraction of what Twist & Shout did when the doors were open, there has been an increase in online sales over eBay and Discogs and through the store's website.

“As far as the website goes, it's been largely people from Colorado,” Epstein says. “It's been our audience, and it's been a fair amount of them. I'm not quite sure what to make of that business-wise, but I do take some heart from it. I think it's good. It says that we really are an established store. When people think about buying music in our state, they think of us. That's a good thing.”

Sean Batz, manager at Angelo’s CD’s & More on Broadway, says his shop has had an online presence for the past decade, selling items through eBay, Discogs and Amazon. Although Batz says that online sales account for only a fraction of what the store makes, around 75 percent of sales have been from local customers.

Epstein says one of the bright spots during the shutdown was when Nathaniel Rateliff played an in-store set last week that was live-streamed privately for customers who bought an LP or CD from the store between April 24 through May 1. The event helped sell several hundred copies of Rateliff’s And It’s Still Alright.

Wax Trax Records, which recently launched a new website, will be open for pick-up only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Customers can order online by selecting the “pick up in store” in shipping options. Wax Trax will also be buying used records, if people can leave them overnight and have the store’s buyer look at them. Wax Trax is also asking people to sign the petition to help widen the sidewalk near its doors from five to six feet, which would make it safer to eventually opens its doors.

"Please help us by signing this petition to the City of Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to create the space needed for our employees and customers to stay safe," states Wax Trax's website. "We encourage the city to ensure that other business areas are also improved in this way."

Chain Reaction Records, the Lakewood store that specializes in punk and metal, opened on Friday, May 8. The store's Facebook page stated that it's taking precautions to protect customers and employees.

"Please come visit us but please wear a mask," Chain Reaction's Facebook page states. "All employees will be in masks and gloves. We appreciate all of the online orders over the last several weeks and will continue to manage our Discogs page. With no concerts for some time, we will strive to fill that hole however we can."

Black & Read Books, Music & Games in Arvada is aiming to reopen on Saturday, May 9, with reduced hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday). Bart's Record Shop in Boulder is re-opening on Saturday, May 9, with the guidelines required by Boulder County; customers must wear a mask, only four customers will be allowed in the store at a time, and there should be social distancing both in and outside the store. Also, high-risk customers can make twenty-minute appointments between 10 and 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Angelo’s on Broadway also plans to open its doors on Saturday, May 9, with reduced hours as well (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

“We have a plan in place that I feel confident about to make the experience safe and healthy for everybody,” Batz says. “We're going to do the best we can. I know I got a lot of customers that have been waiting to come in."

As far as logistics go, Batz says he’s lucky the store has a lot of room on the sidewalk for customers to line up. The store will start by letting five people in at a time, even though he says some businesses are letting in as many as ten.

“We're going to go with five and then see how it goes throughout the day,” Batz says. “And then you've got to have masks. To be in the store, all employees will have masks. I will have gloves available for those who want it, but they have to bring their own masks, because honestly, that tells me that they're thinking about it and that they thought ahead, and that's the kind of people that we want in here.”
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon