Nestled in the Golden Triangle among the bail bondsmen, cozy upscale restaurants and cuspidated art museum is a new addition to Denver’s central cultural district: a high-end record store.
Recollect Records, which opens this Saturday at 1255 Delaware Street, in what used to be the Von Tornow art gallery, may be the next place where crate-diggers’ dreams come true. Owner Austin Matthews says that the shop, with its clean, modern aesthetic, seeks to represent a true appreciation for vinyl, elegance, and cross-correlation among musical genres, with an emphasis on hip-hop.
Matthews, a native Denverite, comes from a family of entrepreneurs and artists, and innovation seems to run thick in the family’s blood. He is the son of William Matthews and Susan Brown, two well-known Colorado creatives: William is a watercolor artist, and Brown owned the Von Tornow gallery. She is also the inventor of the Boppy, a C-shaped pillow designed for infant feeding and support.
Austin Matthews has obsessed over vinyl since he was in high school, and he’s accumulated tens of thousands of albums over the years. He pursued visual arts early on, studying cinematography at the Denver School of the Arts before attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to study illustration and graphic design. He was working as the building manager of his East Bay apartment complex when his landlord passed away. The man left behind a record collection, an assemblage of near-mint soul and funk vinyl that eventually came into Matthews’s possession. The windfall kickstarted his business sense, and he began selling the records on eBay. Soon he’d made enough money to be able to finance life in San Francisco and his art-making.
Bay Area living expenses continued to increase, however, and last year Matthews decided to move back to his home city. Then he weighed his professional options: He could focus on his career as a fine artist — or he could open a record store. His addiction to vinyl won out, and the idea for Recollect Records was born. “Honestly, it’s the only way to justify buying that many records,” he jokes.
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Matthews’ goal is to create a unique record shop that caters to producers, DJs, crate-diggers, hip-hop heads and overall music enthusiasts. The space is modeled after the art gallery it once was, down to the striking music-related posters and albums that hang on the walls. Even the bins that hold the records are custom-made, adding another curatorial touch to the small space.
This model of record shop can be found in every major metropolitan area, and Recollect can be compared with A-1 Records and Sound Library in New York, or Groove Merchant in San Francisco. The average price of an album is higher than usual, but the majority of the albums for sale are original pressings and difficult to find. Also, Recollect sells records that are clean and in excellent condition. But if a buyer is looking for records on the cheap, there’s a back room stocked with used records for $3 each.
In addition to selling records, Matthews plans to embark on side projects through the shop. Recollect will occasionally release an album, and the first in this series is Tidy Universe, by the Dirty Snacks Ensemble. Based in the East Bay, Dirty Snacks Ensemble is the project of bandleader, composer and vibraphonist Mark Clifford, who is also a native Coloradan. The LP is slated for release in late May.
Matthews not only wants to supply the Denver metro area with great music, but would like to be a part of its expansion as well, giving back to the community by supporting the local arts scene. He plans to host art shows for painters, illustrators and musicians at the shop and will present monthly dance parties catering to soul, funk and boogie.
Recollect Records hosts its Grand Opening on Saturday, April 30, beginning at noon.