Meet Ashely co owner of Vertical House Records a shop in Huntsville, AL. While I have spent some time in Alabama, I actually met Ashely through the blog and am happy to be able to give you a glimpse behind the scenes there. Ashley is also a wedding photographer (you can find her work here White Rabbit Studio). When she’s not at the store she enjoys gardening, hiking, kayaking – pretty much anything outdoors.
My husband and I love to travel and experience new surroundings and cultures (and record stores, of course). We also love going to concerts!
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Before we were married, when my husband and I met we started talking about our “dream jobs” – he mentioned wanting to own a record store, and I just said “let’s do it then!” We started with a small table of records at a local artist market, then rented a 100 square foot space, then just continued to grow as the demand for vinyl kept rising in our community. Growing up, I was always booking and helping friends sell their albums at shows (merch girl wha wha) all while at the same time, unbeknownst to me, so was my husband! We bonded over conversations about music, and it all just made sense for us to follow this path.
What is a day in the life like?
Since my husband usually deals with the purchases for the store, I’m most likely to be found pricing and sorting records or unboxing new inventory if an order comes in. There’s always the helping folks find a certain album (if we have it)…or taking their info down if we don’t have it and can order it. We have a few regulars that come in every week, so it’s always great to catch up with them!
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I LOVE hosting shows, especially when some of my favorite bands come through. We also DJ events in our town or at regional festivals, which is always super fun! Record Store Day is always a hullabaloo, and while it’s chaotic at first, by the end of the day it’s nice to see all the support and hear folks score albums they’ve been wanting! I also get so much joy when folks find their “white whale” record in our store – I know what it’s like to chase an album and finally find it!
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
If it’s something you truly love, you’ll enjoy every day of work… or at least most all of them anyway ha! Start small and build up the clientele and interest in your store before spending too much on rent and such and not having the justification for it. Reach out to stores nearby and see what the day-to-day is and if it’s something you’d want to pursue. We have happily helped stores in our region feel comfortable about their decisions – most folks in this industry are just happy to see the passion so vibrant for vinyl that they are happy to chat and share info!
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Absolutely! We have quite the collection at home! Vinyl is just an impressive way to listen to music. There’s something so gratifying about putting a needle to the wax! I was initially drawn to records because of the album art – how large a 12×12 graphic was compared to CD or tapes…digital music wasn’t popular until I already started collecting physical copies of music, so I never really got into the whole download and sell off your collection wave.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
As much as Record Store Day has helped stores, I think there’s also some negative things that happen. Because of the limited releases, sometimes customers get upset with the store owners. We’ve had some bad feedback from things that were out of our control related to RSD and it’s tough trying to make everyone happy. I definitely appreciate the attention the events bring to shops though and how it’s helped raise awareness of the thriving vinyl community.
Anything else you want to share or are really into right now?
Radiohead has been a favorite since 1998! I’ve seen them several times and met Thom and Johnny (on separate but equally awesome occasions).
Vertical House: @verticalhouserecords