Women in Vinyl Logo

Beth Curtis | Owner, Atomic Genius Records

Meet Beth Curtis, the Owner / Operator of Atomic Genius Records & More, a small independent brick and mortar store located in downtown Puyallup, Washington.  They focus on selling new and used vinyl records, music themed gifts, original art prints, and t-shirts. Beth has a professional background in sales and product management for the Aviation industry, but needing a change and wanting to combine her love of music, and art practice, she opened Atomic Genius in August 2021.

When not behind the counter, “I’m a voracious reader. My kindle shows 634 days in a row (haha)”!

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

The corporate world didn’t leave me much space to pursue my artwork. After my father’s passing in 2019, I made the decision to leave my career and focus on more creative endeavors. I have always loved music. It made sense to combine the two, art and  music.

I had started collecting vinyl again in 2015. The resurgence of vinyl lent itself to make LPs the focal of the store with an art gallery in the back.

What is a day in the life like?

Amazing! I get to work in a record store! Doing all of the business backend things like ordering product, arranging the store, and all the other things that go into running a small business doesn’t feel like work. It’s a lifestyle.

I also get to make art again. I make one of a kind, hand painted record clocks out of the vinyl that doesn’t play anymore and sell them in the store.

Favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?

There are so many and they are varied. It’s mainly the stories and memories that are shared. From the young kids just beginning their musical discovery and getting into vinyl for the first time; to the seasoned collector that has a library of knowledge to share. Vinyl is a physical medium that requires a person to be present for the interaction/experience. Memories are tied to these experiences and the music. Putting on a certain record takes us back to those moments in time.

In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?

For me, it’s the 1985 Vision Quest O.S.T. It came in a used collection. I did a little happy dance when I first saw it. It took me back to when I was really beginning my personal musical journey. Artists like Madonna, Dio, and Red Rider to name a few. It didn’t make it out for sale.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Not buying all the records for myself. The struggle is real.

What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?

Record Store Day is the most amazing experience and it keeps getting better as we keep having them. I love the energy and excitement from everyone involved.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

Follow you dreams and passions! If opportunity presents itself, then take a chance on yourself. You’ll never know what can work if you don’t try.

Small Business Administration/Association are great places to start researching what you’ll need to begin.

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.

The packaging on new releases are amazing. The attention to detail from liner notes, posters, stickers, to colored vinyl and special variants is pretty creative. It makes the experience all the more tangible. It’s also great to see the abundant reissues from artists who haven’t released on vinyl before or it’s been a very long time since they have.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

I am a vinyl collector. I love the physicality and the large format. The artwork that accompanies the music is one of my favorite aspects.

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?

Carrie Colliton from the Record Store Day camp is one of my favorites. The Record Store Day team are a great source of inspiration and support for the independents in the industry.

Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to: 

Some of my favorite bands right now are (too long to list them all): The Arcs, the Black Pumas, Ghost, Khruangbin, Michael Kiwanuka, Polyphia, Sault, Sofi Tukker, Starcrawler, and Turnstile.

Find Beth: 

Instagram: @atomicgeniusrecords

Facebook: @AtomicGenius

Twitter: @atomic_genius

Website:  www.atomicgeniusrecords.com

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