Meet Angie Roloff, co-owner or one half of the mom & pop record store Strictly Discs located in Madison, Wisconsin. She manages the physical brick and mortar location, new & used buying and all their staff.
I recently watched the movie Record Safari, a film by Life is My Movie on Alex Rodriguez and when I saw Angie on there knew I had to reach out for an interview. The more I can support record stores in this difficult time the better.
When Angie is not at the shop, she’s cooking, gardening or watching baseball “…my cats are named after Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame players.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I grew up in a family that loved music. My first music purchases were on cassette and my sister and I as kids created our own mixtape label, Hang Fire Records named after the Rolling Stones song from their Tattoo You album.
While a student at UW Madison, I came into Strictly Discs for the first time in 1994 to purchase the freshly remastered Tattoo You on CD in 1994. My future husband Ron was behind the counter. Our path took a lot of twists and turns but I came on full time at the shop to help grow the business in 2006.
What is a day in the life like?
Typically our business is based on people. We try to put our best foot forward and have a clean organized store stocked with the new & used product our customers seek. So that could be purchasing used LPs and CDs, processing new release orders, meeting with staff and planning promotions and events and everything in between. The one constant is I get here an hour before the door opens to make sure I am ready (or as ready as I can be).
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
Oh boy. We have so many wonderful customers and so many of these people have become our dear friends it is impossible to pick one. I guess that is what makes days like Record Store Day so great because we get to see them all nearly simultaneously.
In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / the thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?
We purchased a collection from a deceased sign maker named Rick Talikowski and he had painstaking and often beautifully written his name on his records. In most circumstances, it’s a bummer when folks write on record jackets, but in this instance we got to see that slice of his life get shared and I still hear from customers, Oh I pulled out “A Talikowsi” record last night. It marks a time and a place and reflects a person’s passion which becomes the passion of others and that’s what we love doing.
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
I think the best experience is when someone turns me onto something I haven’t heard before that becomes a favorite. Shortly after our current and long-term manager Evan started, he built a playlist for Ron and I when we were going on vacation. On a Mexico beach we listened to Michael Hurley’s ‘Sweedeedee’ easily 200 times.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Hire a great CPA, keep a regimented inventory, treat people with respect and understand this isn’t about being in the record business, it’s about being in a business that sells records.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
We try to be the conduit so our collection is constantly cycling through the shop. We will bring some pieces home and then bring them back for someone else to enjoy. That said, we always have a solid selection of jazz at home.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The best part is people but that can also be the most challenging. Unfortunately the person who is unhappy is often the one we take home with us at day’s end. The black and white of email and online platforms make that even harder.
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.
Music has never been more popular so I love seeing young people, and especially young women embracing the format. That said, pricing is a constant concern – when Harry Styles and Lana Del Rey records have suggested list prices in the mid $30s, that gives me pause about growth.
Tell me your favorite thing that you are listening to right now?
My longtime favorite musician is John Prine so his passing was a real gut punch. Ron and I got to see him last year and it was awesome. ‘The Missing Years’ is always on repeat but maybe a little more lately.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Local Local Local. Now and always. Record stores need you now and always.
We’ve got a full eCommerce website with links to our used platform partners and we do curbside pick-ups and we offer $1 Dane County delivery. We want to be your music resource.
Shop the store here: www. strictlydiscs.com/Store