It was just October when Indy CD and Vinyl owner Rick Zeigler told Annie Skinner he planned to close his record shop on Broad Ripple Avenue.
"I looked at Rick and said, 'I need Liam to have something like this,'" Skinner says when we chat in the makeshift kids' play area taking over the small stage at the back of the shop this week. "I don't want him to only find stuff on the Internet. I don't want him to not have some place he can go."
Liam is Annie's six-month-old son with husband Andy Skinner. The couple, along with Eric Davis, purchased Indy CD and Vinyl from Zeigler in a sale that takes effect on February 1.
Two years ago, things were different. That's when Zeigler first asked then-manager Annie if she wanted to take over the store.
"At that point I was just about to graduate [from Herron with a degree in visual communications], and we weren't sure where we were headed with A-Squared Industries [the pair's a successful promotions and marketing company], everything. We weren't sure if we wanted to head to another city. We just wanted to leave things open. So that time we were like, 'That's not really in the cards right now.'
"Fast forward two years, we buy a house here in Broad Ripple. We have Liam. We start to realize we're committed to Naptown," Annie says.
Even if purchasing a record store in the heart of Broad Ripple wasn't always the plan for the Skinners, they call it the "perfect time."
"We feel too strongly about the place. It's such a community asset. It's bigger than me and Annie. It's bigger than Rick. That might sound strange to some readers.
"But the biggest reason that Annie and I say to ourselves over and over, why we want to run it and curate it, is the experiences that she and I had as kids. This is the community center. This is Big Brothers Big Sisters. This is all these things. This is your after-school class," Andy says.
Zeigler is in the process of moving to Muncie, where he will continue his non-profit work, including organizing the Muncie Three Trails Music Series. He brought Annie with him when he relocated his store from Salt Lake City to Broad Ripple Ave. in 2001. Originally, her stay was to be temporary. But she found much to love about Indy, and its music scene, in particular.
"Maybe it was that White Stripes show at the Vogue [that convinced me to stay]," she says. "[Record stores were] a saving grace for me, growing up. Going to local record stores in Utah, and finding people who were like me, and finding a path that was different than what my parents took, or what my friends took. I want that for him," Annie says, gesturing to Liam. "So we started figuring out how we could do it. So we figured it out quick and hit the ground running."
And now, after years of managing, she owns the place. That's in between getting a degree, meeting — at the shop, natch — and eventually marrying Andy, starting A-Squared Industries and DJing hundreds of events as a pair. Their close relationship with Davis developed through sponsoring "Butler Scion Presents" events together and working together on a radio show on WITT.
Now, the trio settles into their new roles. Andy will be co-owner and bookkeeper at the shop; Annie's official title is managing co-owner. Davis, who will continue to work with Andy at Butler Toyota Scion, will help manage the shop's web presence in addition to co-owning.
Changes are already at hand. The new owners are beefing up the staff, including a new buyer, who will eventually have a booth in the back of the shop to work with customers.
"We're going to have buyers on staff full-time, so our vinyl will be turning," Annie says.
Half the store will be vinyl, and the display and layout will be changed. They'll expand the stage and host more in-stores, featuring local and national artists. A much bigger web presence will include an online shop, for those "looking to shop local from home." The renovation, slated for February, will close the store for just a week. But, regular shoppers, don't fear. It's not all changing.
"This place is not broken," Annie says. "This is a wonderful, wonderful place. ... We're just freshening it up. Giving it a little new life."
One thing certainly won't change: the categorizing of local artists.
"Rick has always felt very strongly that he doesn't want to separate locals from the nationals. He wants people to find locals as they're looking for any other stuff," Annie says. "So it's all alphabetized in," says Andy, "besides a highlighted rounder in the front."
They're focused on creating a community space, a space for all to feel comfortable in.
"I want the staff to be super-anti High Fidelity," Annie says. "That's not the store. I want every type of person to feel comfortable here. I want women to buy records. ... You don't have to just like what your boyfriend likes. It's okay to have an opinion."
The Skinners are the official DJs for the Naptown Rollers Girls and both sit on the Board of Directors for Girls Rock!, a non-profit that supports music education and creative expression for young girls.
"For a long time, I always felt pretty out of place being a woman running the store, because no one ever assumes I'm running the place," Annie says. "[People have asked], 'Oh, is there somebody else I can talk to about this hip-hop record?' That was hard. But I have to push that aside. It's not their fault; it's just culture. And that can change. I hope that it will be empowering for girls to see a women business owner in a male-dominated industry."
After that October conversation, the new owners dove right in.
"I kind of took over right before Black Friday, which is crazy because it was the busiest time of the year," Annie says. "And it went very well. Sales were up 10 percent from last year, which was crazy because I had a brand new staff and this was my first time."
Post-holiday season wasn't any easier. The icy weather that shut down most of the city didn't leave Indy CD and Vinyl untouched.
"We were closed for two days because of the weather, opened for one day, and then closed because of the flooding," Andy says.
After all that snow melted, water poured into the back room, ruining some autographed materials and other collectibles.
"It's already been kind of a trial by fire," Andy says. "But we try and treat everything like an opportunity. We were going to tear up the carpet in the back anyway."
"It's kind of nice to start fresh," Annie says. "It hasn't even really hit me that we're buying the store, because we've just been so busy."