Nearly 13 years ago, 22-year-old Annie Johnson's adventurous and helpful spirit brought her to Indianapolis. The young record store clerk road-tripped here from Salt Lake City to help her boss, Rick Zeigler, move his shop. Her visit was supposed to be a brief intermission before she launched her own career in massage therapy. Once the shelves were stocked at the newly minted Indy CD & Vinyl, Annie planned to move on.
Instead, she never left.
- Kirsten Eamon-Shine
- Andy and Annie Skinner and Eric Davis officially assume ownership of Indy CD & Vinyl on Feb. 1, but they are working closely with founder and friend Rick Zeigler to make a smooth transition.
Today Annie, the store's longtime manager, and her husband, Andy Skinner, (who she met at Indy CD & Vinyl and later married) are becoming the new owners, along with their friend Eric Davis. They are buying this stalwart of the local music community (at 806 Broad Ripple Ave.), with the purchase completion scheduled for Feb. 1st. The couple plans to revive its place in central Indiana's music scene and relaunch the business with a new image, some fresh ideas and a great deal of respect for what it already is.
We caught up with the Skinners at the just-shoveled Broad Ripple Village storefront, in the midst of a post-storm ceiling-leak cleanup and transitioning meeting with Zeigler. In our conversation they shared their vision, passion and even an over-the-shoulder peek at the development of their new logo, created by Aaron Scamihorn.
The Perfect Next Step
This isn't the first time they've explored the idea of buying the shop. Two years ago, Zeigler offered to sell them the business. But Annie had just graduated with a visual communication design degree from Herron School of Art and Design and was unsure about her next career step.
"I had been on this road for so long," she says. "I wondered if it was what I wanted to continue on."
That changed last fall when Annie, following a maternity leave, returned to the shop. She discovered that Zeigler had let the stock diminish and that there was a bit less spark around the place. When the couple talked with the owner, Zeigler confided that he planned to shut down operations and move to Muncie, Ind., for personal reasons.
"He told us his plans to close the store, and our reaction was, 'No, you're not,'" says Andy. "We see the store as too much of a community asset to simply allow him to close it, even though it's his dream, his baby. But it's bigger than that."
The pair recruited friend and previous colleague Eric Davis, who is Andy's boss at his other place of business, Butler Toyota Scion. The Skinners and Davis are long-established collaborators on events, such as concerts supported by Butler, DJ gigs and a radio show. The Skinners also work as local promoters and marketers.
"At events, we'd be running the show, after doing the promotion and the booking, we'd be talking about, you know, 'What big thing can we do?'" says Annie. "With all our skills – Andy's business school, my design skills, my time at mom-and-pop shops, and Eric's time at a music store – this just makes sense. It's the perfect next step."
A Fresh Re-Start
The Skinners have decades of both music obsession and travel experiences. In other words, they've shopped scores of record stores in other cities.
"We were both fourteen and followed our musical passions to the nth degree," says Andy, pointing to a few teenagers flipping through a shelf of CDs. "We want to make sure that kids have that these days. We want them to find that here."
They plan to bring all the best parts of their travel experiences to Indy CD & Vinyl. In-store concerts, a bigger, remodeled stage to host events, fresh paint, a revamped floor plan, more displays and a brand-new logo are all in process. They also have ideas about bringing film into the space, collaborating with Deckademics, hosting workshops and increasing e-commerce.
Mike Contreras and Antonio Leiriao, both musicians and knowledgeable clerks, are expanding their roles to serve as vinyl buyers, supporting a renewed focus on vintage LPs. Ultimately, the goal is to create the kind of rotating collection that makes for a "digger's dream."
Even as they plan to cater to aspiring teenage emcees and vinyl-phile obsessives, the Skinners want to create a welcoming space. They'll retain the shop's kids' area, which is overseen by a poster of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the "protectors" of children. In keeping with the store's current direction, they also want to maintain a diverse musical selection, with everything from Miles Davis to Miley Cyrus. And they're adamant about their policy forbidding smug attitudes of "cool kid" record shop staff.
"I don't want a 'High Fidelity' environment," says Annie. "I want a focus on customer service. Nobody here hides from customers. I want people like my mom to feel comfortable shopping here."
A welcoming environment, diverse selection, redesigned image and deepening connection with other community organizations define the new vision for Indy CD & Vinyl. As many people plaster "Support Local" bumper stickers on their cars but still shop at Amazon, giving folks a reason to remain connected to any neighborhood business is the key to success. The Skinners and Davis appear poised to keep the mighty little shop a vibrant and healthy business.