It’s really something special when you meet people that understand how important the value of sharing music and vinyl is to a community. Today we are sharing a story of just that. When the end of an era came, it was time for a new one to begin. Meet Tanner Musgrove the Co-owner of the newly opened, Lilliput Records in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Lower East Side! Lilliput Records is an independent, locally owned record store, focusing on new vinyl and CDs, stocking weekly new releases, along with thousands of other catalog titles and an ever growing pre-owned section. They house stereo equipment and audio accessories as well. The mission of Lilliput is to be a community based space, providing a safe place for all!
Outside of work Tanner says, “I have the most supportive friend group and family who I love spending time with!” Going to concerts, reading, taking Nelly (her dog) to the dog park, listening to her records and thrifting sums her up.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
My love of music can be credited to my grandpa Bruce who always had ABBA, The Ronettes, The Shirelles, The Angels and every other girl group under the sun playing during my childhood. I have fond memories of belting The Marvelettes Beechwood 4-5789 during our regular car rides.
When I moved to Milwaukee to attend UW-Milwaukee in 2016, I was job searching and my mom recommended I apply at the local record store because of my love for music. Curious why that hadn’t occurred to me sooner, I quickly filled out an application to The Exclusive Company and got the job in May of that year. I had been with the company and worked my way up to Assistant Manager until the beginning of this year (February 4, 2022) when we received news that the 7-chain Wisconsin based record store would be closing their doors permanently after the late Mr. G’s (owner and founder) passing.
I quickly realized we could not let such a vital part of our community go, and knew we had to do something. 24 hours later my partner and Exclusive Company Manager Brian Kirk was on board and Lilliput Records was born. For the next six months we worked around the clock to make this dream a reality, and with the help of community support, we were able to buy the building and inventory of the previous record store and open as Lilliput Records on July 30, 2022!
What is a day in the life like?
These days, a day in the life looks like spending some morning hours with my dog and catching up on emails, my daily Wordle, listening to records and sipping on some cold brew. The bulk of my day is spent in the shop, pricing pre-owned records that have come in, answering phone calls, receiving shipments, making connections with other local businesses and artists, organizing and helping our customers. After work some nights call for drinks with friends but usually, I’m ready to go home and relax. Then I wake up and repeat!
What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?
It’s hard to choose a favorite. I genuinely love our customers/ regulars so much. They’re my motivation in all of this. My favorite sales are probably the ones where I can physically see the excitement on our customers face for the record they’re purchasing! To know that we not only had the title they were looking for in-store, but to see how happy music and vinyl can make people brings me so much joy!
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?
The absolute coolest record to come through our shop would hands down be Penny Goodwin’s Portrait of a Gemini. She is a Milwaukee native and that album is pure perfection. The other half of Lilliput, Brian Kirk, introduced me to this record, so ultimately it is sitting on his record shelves, while sitting on my Discogs want list. If you do anything today, check out Portrait of a Gemini!
What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?
Because we are so new, I’d like to think the craziest experience is yet to come. Our mission as Lilliput Records is to be very community based, working with many local businesses and artists, hosting local shows and making a space for all. We already have a lot in the works and want to continue to build off this momentum.
Record Store Days are always a wonderful experience and even though we weren’t Lilliput at the time, last Record Store Day we collaborated with local radio station, FM 102/1 who helped bring Spoon’s Brit Daniel to the store for a DJ set and to help fundraise for Lilliput! He and his team were so wonderful to work with and it was such an awesome day that I will never forget!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
What I’ve learned in all of this, is to really go with the flow. So many things are going to come up when opening a new store that are completely unexpected. As someone who loves to be 20 steps ahead, this was a huge curve ball for me and something I’m still adjusting to. Throw on your favorite record, shake it out and remind yourself, you got this!
Are you a vinyl collector yourself?
Yes, I love vinyl! For me, there is nothing like being able to hold your music and have such a physical experience with it. The act of sliding a CD into the player or dropping the needle brings me so much joy and makes me feel so much more connected to the album I’m playing! My grandpa has records, so I naturally gravitated towards his collection. In high school my family bought me my first turntable and the rest is history!
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Being a month old, we are still working out a lot of kinks, working on rearranging the store, painting/ making the shop our own, feeling out our expenses and so on. We are both looking forward to the day where everything has fallen into place and we can focus on day-to-day happenings, hiring more folks, booking local artists, etc.
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.
My main concern right now is vinyl production and the extreme delays we are seeing. Many albums that are coming out on CD today, have a vinyl release date six months out or no vinyl release scheduled at all. The amount of releases we are seeing being pushed back each week are only growing.
We are also noticing quality control almost going out the door for many releases. My guess for this would be the sheer volume of records that are being pressed, and the goal of getting them out the door is becoming more of a priority. I feel these issues will only be resolved by opening up more pressing plants. Who’s in?!?
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
My partner Brian Kirk has been extremely influential in my growth with records and the record industry. Collecting and working in record stores his whole life, along with having his own record label, The Bus Stop Label, to managing The Exclusive Company in Milwaukee, and now being Co-owner of Lilliput… His knowledge is truly immeasurable.
Anything else you want to share? If not, tell me: What is your favorite music genre or band right now?
Girl groups will forever be my favorite. I find so much nostalgia in these songs, it’s hard not to be drawn to them. Favorite band is tough! I’m really enjoying zannie’s debut! I can do favorite labels no problem. Slumberland, Colemine and Numero Group can take all my money!