10,000 Hz-STORY

Russ here. I’m the guy in the shop most of the time - the one with the beard up there. Here’s our story so far…

10,000 Hz Records started as a pop-up shop in early 2017 in and around Opelika and Auburn, Alabama. We’d moved to the area from North Carolina a couple of years earlier and let me tell you that driving to Atlanta and/or Birmingham to find the closest shops with much of a new vinyl selection was pretty frustrating. At first, the pop-ups were just a few crates of LPs and a display stand our pal PK built for us, but towards the end of those events, Hannah (my partner…that’s her up there...the beardless one) and I were regularly hauling three car-loads full of records with us to one coffee shop or another every other weekend. We opened our brick & mortar shop in historic downtown Opelika in July 2018 on a revitalized stretch of 1st Avenue that’s now also home to Mama Mocha’s Coffee Roastery, Sneak & Dawdle, and Resting Pulse Brewing Company.

We started small and we’ve grown into our space - the former offices and part of the warehouse of the old Montgomery Cotton Company. We used to serve beer and put on $5 3-band bills a few nights a month in our little lounge, which used to be the company president’s office, complete with some fancy wall paneling, dentil molding, and custom bookshelves. There was a shotgun rack under the built-in desk when we first moved in, naturally. We hosted Dogwood Lung and Captain Kudzu and Easter Island, friends from NC and quite a few shorter-lived but well-loved Auburn and Bham bands, Night Palace and Sniffle Party, and Hiss Golden Messenger played one afternoon before a couple of sold-out evening shows out at Standard Deluxe. As the business grew and Covid hit, some things obviously had to change.

There’s no room in here for full-on shows at this point, and we don’t sell beer anymore. We *do* sell turntables, speakers, some vintage hi-fi gear, all kinds of audio accessories, cassettes, CDs, magazines, coffee mugs, shirts, hoodies…all the stuff you should expect. But haven’t you heard? Vinyl is back. Has been for a good long while now, and our shop is heavily focused on new and used records spanning pretty much every major genre and quite a few micro-genres. Indie rock, jazz, folk, krautrock, soul, metal, ambient, pop, electronic, country, post-punk, audiophile pressings, soundtracks, Japanese imports - you name it. Our inventory has grown substantially over the last 4+ years and we keep about 6,000 new vinyl titles in stock at any given moment. You can see 99% of them in the various tabs here on this website, though we do keep some stuff off the site for our in-store customers.

When it comes to used vinyl, we’re big believers in restoration. We employ a variety of techniques and machines to get used LPs and 45s in the best condition possible before we play-test them, grade them using the Goldmine Standard, price them based on the Discogs median, and put them out on the floor for sale. We’ve chosen the most time-consuming and, frankly, *annoying* way to process used records because it’s the way that we - people who’ve bought and collected records for most of our lives - think it should be done. We try our best to consistently put out a good mix of weird & rare stuff + bread & butter used records from our jam-packed back room every week. You know, interesting stuff that people actually want to buy. The idea is to keep our customers from feeling like they’re sifting through a bunch of junk to find one thing they want like they might at an antique mall or some such place, and instead try to force them to make difficult choices when they’re faced with a whole bunch of things they want. You don’t exactly have to be lucky here…for most people, luck is sort of baked in.

In March of 2020, we were lucky to be pretty close to launching the first iteration of 10000HzRECORDS.COM. We’d been slowly working on the site for months, and this was originally going to be a place to take preorders for big new releases and sell t-shirts to our old friends and not much more than that, but we realized very quickly that we’d need to be able to make our full inventory available online if the business was going to eventually see the other side of the pandemic (I don’t think we’re there yet, FWIW). With our pal Jerstin’s help, we rushed to make the site public a couple of days after we closed the storefront and tweaked and improved it over the course of those first several uncertain months. Shoutout to the folks that ordered from us via spreadsheets for the better part of 2020. Through word of mouth and Record Store Day events and people sharing links on Reddit and in Facebook groups and so on and so forth, online sales became our entire business for the 13+ months our storefront was closed to foot traffic, before the Covid vaccines were widely available. We did pickups and personally delivered records to our customers’ doorsteps and shipped out thousands of boxes that reached literally every state in the U.S.A. Still doing all that, in fact.

We re-opened the storefront in April of 2021 and we’re still keeping a limited capacity and requiring everyone - staff, customers, *everyone* - to wear masks in the shop as we near the end of 2022. It’s been a little contentious with some folks, of course, but those policies are unlikely to change anytime soon. These are the things we can do and these are the tools we have to protect our staff and our customers from illness, and they have 100% absolutely undeniably helped prevent the spread of Covid-19 in our shop. They’ve worked for us so far. It’s fine if you disagree, but you’re still gonna need to follow the rules if you want to visit the shop.

Anyways, hey speaking of record shops, the name of ours comes from the Air album 10,000 Hz Legend - the first new vinyl record I ever bought at CD Alley in Chapel Hill, NC, back in 2001. I love that band, but it’s not even their best or my favorite of their records. The shop just happened to be out of the CD the day I heard “How Does It Make You Feel” on WXYC in my Chevy Corsica…but they did have it on vinyl. And the artwork looked awesome. And I had just recently gotten my brother’s old turntable - a linear track Technics thing from the 80s. It was all pretty fortuitous. Kinda like some record nerds moving to the small town next door to the one college town in America that didn’t really have a record shop right as vinyl was really taking off.

Life is strange, no?