So many of us have gone to various record stores throughout our lives and thought about opening our own; taking pieces of each shop and storing them away for the dream that someday maybe we’d open up just the perfect place. Jada Pfarr the owner of Longshot Vinyl in Downtown Racine, Wisconsin did just that in opening her perfect store. Longshot sells new and vintage vinyl, turntables and record store merch.
When she isn’t being the counter she’s spending time with her family, jogging, or working on projects at her 124 year old house “it’s an endless project to work on“. She says she loves live music and can’t wait to get back to some shows like so many of us.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I’m a mom of two teenagers so I balance my time with my family and running my shop. A day in the life at the shop, I’m cleaning and pricing vintage records, getting special orders in and engaging with customers in person and through social media. I also sell vinyl through my webstore so I’m often busy with that.
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
I recently had a kid come in with his mom. He was probably about 13. He didn’t say much but his mom told me he had saved up some cash and wanted to add to his record collection. She said they had just heard of my shop recently but the kid made a beeline directly to my “fresh arrivals” bin and grabbed Blueprint by Jay Z without hesitation. He likely had seen my latest fresh arrivals video on my Instagram and knew what he wanted to spend his hard earned cash on. He paid with a wad of balled up bills that he had in a ziplock bag! I love the next generation getting into collecting. We have a lot of regular customers of which many have become friends. A lot of people made a special effort in our community to shop local when the pandemic hit and that was really lovely.
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?
It’s tough to pick just one. I’ve had some unique stuff over the years. I kept a signed copy of Dr. Octagon (Moosebumps) for my husband. We had a daughter bring in her recently passed dad’s jazz collection which had every Bluebird recording you could think of in it. Unfortunately, most of it was damaged. Another downtown business owner brought me a whole box of her husbands locally recorded and printed vinyl records of his band from the late 70s. We always have a copy up for sale in the shop and a local will usually snap it up. You never know what’s going to come through the door. It’s the best version of crate digging on the planet!
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
We had several live shows at our shop prepandemic. We hosted a Scottish band called Skerryvore and supported their latest album at an in-store acoustic show. We had nearly 100 people pack the place! It was a really amazing day but a very crazy and busy one. We also hosted Midwest Death Rattle and Hey Muchacho and it was so loud in our shop, I thought that our neighboring restaurant would surely have its glassware shattered. Luckily, we only lost a glass dish that held concert buttons in it.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
We are very fortunate in Wisconsin to have WWBIC (Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp) which helped me get the funding to get started. I also worked with SBDC (Small Business Development Center) to get a business plan worked out. The advice I’d give is that it can take time to get your business on its feet and you never know what’s around the corner (hello quarantine!) but don’t let the discouraging days stop you.
When you get knocked down, brush yourself off and get back up. As far as advice for other women looking to open a record shop or even start collecting records, you’re not alone!
There are a lot of men in shops and collecting but don’t shrink because of that. It took me a couple of years to start standing my ground in my own shop as far as knowledge and skill go. I’ve been the only woman at a record show many times. If I’m feeling outnumbered I just remember that I built my own shop from scratch and that I’ve earned a place in the conversation just as much as anyone else.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am a lifelong record collector. When I was a teenager in the 90s and everyone was tossing out their records for CDs, I held on to mine and kept picking them up where I could still find them. In fact, I credit record collecting for falling for my husband who I met as a teen. He was the only other person I knew that was my age and had a turntable. I absolutely love crate digging. It’s like treasure hunting for me.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Definitely the pandemic/quarantine. My shop was also a craft beer and wine lounge which meant we had a complete shut down in the spring of 2020. Ultimately, I had to abandon that part of my business and I partnered up with another woman-owned business two doors down and we now share a retail space – Perennial Soaps, handmade vegan and palm oil free soap. by Erin Manders. It is truly the silver lining in all of the hardships for small businesses in the last year that 1.) My business and my health survived and 2.) That I get to work every day with one of my best friends in our unique and funky shop space. It’s basically two separate businesses sharing one awesome storefront. We love it!
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.
It’s really exciting to see vinyl sales increasing each year. It’s direct competition for independent record shops but I think it’s great that you can pick up a record just about anywhere now. I’m Gen X and I wasn’t sure if the generations coming up behind me would get into vinyl but they have and I love that.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Shop local. Support your local art and music scene. Buy your records directly from the band or at your local independent record shop.
Tell me what you’re listening to right now:
My favorite band is Lucero. They’re sort of a punk-country/alt-country band that’s been around since the late nineties but that isn’t my favorite genre. I’m a huge hip hop fan. I love Atmosphere, Kendrick Lamar and The Roots… I could go on and on here about my favorite music but I’ll keep it short!
Website / Bandcamp: www.longshotvinyl.com