Women owned and operated, safe space, record store… check, check, and check. We were thrilled to learn of a new shop checking all those boxes from Erica Rosa who reached out about Bird City Records in LaPlata, Maryland. Bird City opened this past April and is owned by Shannon Wang and Mona Wise. Erica is the shop manager, a music fanatic, photographer and zine creator. If you’re able, go buy and support Bird City!
When she isn’t behind the counter Erica is taking photos, making zines, hosting the occasional radio show, and back in the day, acting with various Rocky Horror casts.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Growing up with my Dad who has always been in bands, and wanting to be as involved with music as possible despite the fact that I’ve never been good at playing instruments. Watching High Fidelity for the first time, managing a record store seemed like the ultimate dream.
What is a day in the life like?
In a word, rad! Spending every day opening shop, selling vinyl, and talking with folks about music is the best.
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
We had a couple of kids that became regulars early on, they started a band, we encouraged them to record a demo so we could eventually sell their music. They came in with a CD two weeks later and now swing in sometimes to help us test used vinyl! I wish I was that cool at 12-15!
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?
A pristine pressing of Led Zeppelin’s self titled album, from the USSR. Not one I kept but it was tempting!
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
I’ve seen folks find secondhand records through us that belonged to them in the past!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Listen to all kinds of music, even outside of your usual preferred genre. It’s an awesome thing to be as knowledgeable as possible. Be passionate in your fanaticism, because your enthusiasm will get your customers hyped about music too!
Also, network! Before coming here I spent time taking photos of bands, hosting radio shows, podcasting, making zines, selling merch, and other semi-related hobbies in addition to jobs I had to have to get bills paid. Life experience that I think prepared me well to do what I do here!
Are you a vinyl collector yourself?
Yes! I probably have a good 500 at home. I love the purposeful ritual when listening to vinyl. When I listen to records, that’s all I’m focused on. I love the beautiful artwork, the warm sound, the interaction between myself and the music. I’m that kind of nerd to properly sleeve my records and protect them as much as possible.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Not spending my entire paycheck on more records for myself, for sure.
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.
I love seeing the growth of Record Store Day, and the interest in vinyl in general. That gives me hope that small stores like Bird City can continue to thrive. That, and locally I’ve noticed how much customers still seem to love cassettes and CDs! Physical media still means a lot to a lot of people, even in the age of streaming and MP3’s.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Support your local scene! Whether that’s buying vinyl from your closest indie record store, going to small gigs, buying merch from bands or offering a couch for those out touring. These little things can keep independent businesses and bands going, and making / distributing new music.
Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me: What is your favorite music genre or band right now?
Amyl and the Sniffers have been rocking my world so hard for the last year. Hands down amazing live performance too!
Bird City Records: @birdcityrecordslp