Women in Vinyl Logo

Keri Girmindl

Co-Owner & Manager, Common Beat Music

A handful of the Women in Vinyl crew are here in Philly today for the crate diggers paradise, Vinylcon! so it's fitting we close out the month with a local who is bringing records year round to her community. Meet Keri Girmindl the co-owner and manager of Common Beat Music. Common Beat is located in West Philadelphia, specializing in a large selection of vinyl records and musician supplies such as strings, cables, drum sticks and more, coupled with a full instrument and electronics repair service. They buy used records and audio & musician gear 5 days a week (Tuesday through Saturday) or by appointment, as well as loan out DJ equipment!

When not working Keri runs competitively, "...mostly marathons these days, but some shorter stuff too, and a lot of people are shocked to find out I don't run with headphones. I never have, a holdover from my high school days, but I find my brain does a pretty good job playing DJ anyway. The other day, over the course of a run, the soundtrack that popped into my head went from Shirley Ellis's "The Clapping Song," to Toy Doll's "Nellie the Elephant" to "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty." When not running, she likes to hang out on the couch with her husband and their cat (and former Common Beat mascot) Foxy, reading, or watching baseball.

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

My then- romantic partner Carlo (who I co-own the business with) was running his repair business out of the previous store The Marvelous after a fire took out his home/business operation. After about a year of working out of the store, the owners of the Marvelous decided to sell their business. In an effort to not uproot his business yet again, we talked about maybe taking over the shop. We put in an offer to buy the shop as-is, and a few months later, we were Common Beat! We're just friends now, but we still own the shop together, and we'll be celebrating 7 years this summer!

I've been really into music since I was a kid though. When I was in elementary school, I used to make up dance routines to stuff I heard on the radio like Madonna and Janet Jackson, and practice them in my room. As I got into middle school, I started to get introduced to grunge and punk like Green Day (it was the mid-90's), and that began a decades-long immersion in the punk subculture. But I've always had a love for music across all genres, and nce we got fast enough internet when I was growing up("fast enough" dial-up, I mean), I started downloading everything I could get my hands on, especially old country like Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn, and blues like Son House, Robert Johnson, and Roscoe Holcomb.

What is a day in the life like?

I start every week day running anywhere from 5-20 miles before work. Then I get here a few hours before we're open to take care of some of the more mundane stuff (bookkeeping, inventory, consignment payouts, etc) and at noon we open up shop. I usually spend the rest of the day pricing records that are in for appraisal, restocking inventory, and occasionally jump back in on the floor to hep out with customers. My role is more behind-the-scenes than it used to be these days, as I tend to deal with more of the "big picture" stuff so Carlo can focus on the repair side of the shop, as well as refurbishing and purchasing most of the gear we stock.

Favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?

There's so many. We host a quarterly DJ event in our shop with some friends from a crew called Vinyl Tap, and every event is a blast. (Hi Lola Kinks! We love you!)

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:

I don't really have many "holy grail" items, so this is a hard one! We recently got our hands on a pretty decent sized country collection from an estate sale, which was really cool because we don't get that kind of stuff in too often, and there were a few Merle Haggard records I was tempted to snag for myself. We also have a copy of Alice Coltrane's "Ptah, the El Daoud" that's been here for a months somehow, and I try to throw it on every once in awhile, because I know I'm gonna miss it when it finally sells. Oh! I also once got an original pressing of Neu!'s first record in the shop. I'm not usually an OG-pressing chaser, but for this one I was - I brought in my reissue copy and swapped it out.

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

We mostly deal in used records and gear, and trying to make sure we always have enough exciting stuff in the bins and display cases can be a little tricky sometimes since we don't really stock new records/reissues to help pad that out. Also trying to fight the Amazon-effect is a constant struggle. We try to keep our prices on strings and stuff like that as low as we can while still maintaining any semblance of profit margin, but we obviously can't compete with drop-shipping companies. Drum stuff has been the worst - everything from sticks to drumheads skyrocketed a few years ago during the peak of the pandemic, and prices never really leveled back out.

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

Not long after we opened, we had our first in-store show with some friends' bands playing. We moved all the record shelves out of the way (they're on locking wheels), pushed the display cases back, and squeezed as many people as we could in here. It was one of the most tightly packed shows I've ever been to in a record shop, i think we must have fit close to 100 people in our 800 square foot store!

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

Just like people say, if you want to be smart, read everything you can get your hands on, if you want to own a music store, listen to everything you can get your ears on. That includes genres you think you may hate. And don't buy collections just because YOU like the artists - it's great when you can get that stuff in, but unless you plan to do this as a hobby, you've gotta buy everything. 

Start with a broader scope in the beginning, then start to fine-tune your inventory once you've been able to see what's been selling after awhile. Your customers may surprise you!

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 new vinyl pressing plants starting to pop back up around the country.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself?  What drew you to it? If not it's ok, it won't be held against you.  Tell us why the vinyl industry then.*

I bought my first record in high school at a car show with my uncle - Thin Lizzy's "Bad Reputation." I bought it with a few other records that I can't remember now, but this one is still in my collection 20+ years later. I didn't even own a turntable at the time! I really got into buying records in the early 2000's when i was in college and it kept going from there.

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

My friend Bobby who owns Vinyl Conflict in Richmond, and his wife Melissa have been good friends of mine for what feels like a billion years - whenever I feel like maybe I'm getting burnt out on the shop or music in general, a quick trip down to see them always gets me excited again! Bobby has also been such an amazing resource for me as a fellow business owner, he's definitely helped me through some of the growing pains over the last nearly 7 years.

Anything else you’d like to add, if not tell us who you're listening to right now: 

My husband and I got engaged at a Blue Oyster Cult concert a couple of years ago while they were playing "Burning For You." It was a pretty magical moment for us (we got matching BOC tattoos a few years earlier after we saw them together the first time)

Find Keri

We hope you enjoyed this content! If so inclined please donate so we can continue bringing you more like this. There is no amount too small.