Strolling down Broad Ripple Avenue, one of the biggest attractions is definitely Indy CD and Vinyl. Who can resist being sucked in through its poster-laden doors and losing a good hour to browsing? Not me — and, to my ear’s delight and my wallet’s dismay, a lot more than browsing usually goes down.

A Salty past …

While the name isn’t as catchy as, say, Karma, Indy CD and Vinyl is easily the best record store in the city. But it was once the best record store of Salt Lake City, Utah. Founded in 1993 by Rick Zeigler, the store was called Salt City CDs and filled essentially the same niche as it does here in Indianapolis. Annie Skinner, who many know as “the blonde chick” from the Indianapolis store, is a Salt Lake City native and worked at Salt City CDs.

“The SLC store was like a family to me,” Skinner says. “When Rick decided to move the store to Indianapolis, I saw that as an opportunity to get out of SLC. It also afforded me the opportunity to start running my own shows and my own record label.”

She speaks of A-Squared Productions and A-Squared Industries, both of which she runs with her husband, Andy Skinner. This summer, the label, A-Squared Industries, released the debut EP by local indie rock band Thunders, and promises to be a great forum for up and coming local bands.

Punk rock cred

The store has earned its punk rock credentials in two ways: First, the store has an incredible selection of releases by both classic and up and coming punk bands. For example, a recent trip to the store yielded not only Refused’s classic album “The Shape of Punk to Come” on vinyl, but also “Learn the Hard Way” by phenomenal pop-punkers The Copyrights.

“We try to keep titles that people are looking for,” Skinner says, “but there are some classic punk titles that will maybe never move off the shelves, but that we need to carry in order to be a true record store.”

The second way in which the store gains punk rock respect is through free in-store shows. It might be easier to avoid booking in-stores by punk bands — moshing next to CD racks rarely turns out well — but groups like Flogging Molly and Billy Bragg have played in the tiny space. Because most in-stores are for bands performing at 21+ venues, the in-store gives the underage crowd a chance to see what they otherwise wouldn’t. Now that’s punk rock.

An indie future …

The post-Napster world hasn’t been friendly to record stores. But the victims have often been mega-stores like FYE and Sam Goody. Independent stores have always offered more than a huge chain or even a peer-to-peer program could offer, and for this reason, they attract loyal customers. Even the huge labels that have, in the past, snubbed smaller stores have come to see that they are the last stronghold of music sales outside of iTunes. Indy CD and Vinyl has recently been inducted into the Coalition of Independent Music Stores. CIMS is a fraternity of record stores across the country with a hard-core dedication to independent music. “Starting in November, the benefits of CIMS membership will kick in,” Skinner says. “We’ll have more exclusives and CIMS listening stations, which are great because they are not dictated by the labels, but by a CIMS committee, which will open even us to new, underground music.”

 

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