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Melanie Peters

Owner, Rockin' Ruby’s Records

Meet Melanie Peters, the owner of Poulsbo Washington's first record store since the 1980's Rockin' Ruby's Records. Rockin' Ruby's is a brick and mortar record shop with thousands of top quality new and used vinyl records, plus CD’s and tapes. Melanie is a former wannabe rock star (her words), who as she got older found her passion to keep kids interested in music, and playing it too.

When not at work, she says... "I have my dream job, I live and breathe sourcing record collections, and being an active participant in my local community."

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

I played guitar in grade school, took it into a career in music production and performance. Being a woman in the industry, I’ve had every experience that women my age share of being overlooked and disregarded.

At 54, my wife and I decided to leave California and start a new life in a small town in western Washington. I learned that kids are not learning how to play instruments much anymore, they’re more interested in video games and social apps. I wholeheartedly believe that if kids hear music they can’t get on Spotify (because they don’t know it exists) we have a chance to open their minds, and become free thinkers.

Plus, I’ve loved vinyl since I was a kid, and my brothers taught me how to listen, care for, and collect at a young age. This is what I can give back to the world, and my passion just happens to be trendy at the moment. So I opened a store in a town that hasn’t had a record store since the mid 1980’s.

What is a day in the life like?

Drink coffee, dream, create a plan, and execute. And repeat. I’m always thinking about how we can grow, what partnerships we can develop, what our community needs, and how Ruby’s can contribute to it.

Favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?

Countless wonderful interactions, folks are so appreciative that we are here. They bring their out of town guests in to show it off, and we love that! Some of our favorite interactions are with the older populations that remember not just the heyday of record stores, but also remembering music that was before my time. I am well versed on music from the 50’s and 60’s, and of course 70’s- current, because my family were collectors. So I can talk artists and songs many shop owners won’t know. Folks light up when they talk about their favorite music, as it’s packed with life memories for them. It’s a wonderful exchange of joy!

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:

We’ve had several Beatles butcher covers, and a signed 1st pressing Velvet Underground “banana cover” LP signed by Andy Warhol, but the stuff that doesn’t make it to the shelves are just my personal favorites like Cal Tjader or Level 42 records (I know, I’m a geek).

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

Just the ups and downs of retail sales. I have sales goals, and I focus on them daily and how to achieve them. But sometimes we don’t know why a week or a month is slow traffic, when suddenly the next week or month is thriving. It’s the unpredictability of retail. For someone as focused as I am, it can be unnerving.

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

The first time we had live music on our patio, someone came up to sit in with an acoustic performance on the drum box. That person ended up being Chad Channing from Nirvana.

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

If it isn’t bringing you joy, don’t do it.

I was told not to do this by everyone I asked prior to launching. I was told vinyl was a fad and it was on the downward spiral. But this is my passion, I have vast knowledge and it’s so much fun for me, it’s effortless.

If you love it, and it’s a passion, then it’s low risk. Start small, deal with stuff you know a lot about, and gauge your “fun-o-meter” daily. If it isn’t bringing you joy, don’t do it. I gauge every decision based on my fun-o-meter, I listen to my gut and only do events, products and expansions that are in my wheelhouse, and bring me joy. Then the work to make those things happen and be successful, and effortless.

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.

Record Store Day is a blessing and a curse. And now they want us to report sales. The issue with this is that we are a small store, every task takes labor, mine or someone else’s. Plus, RSD titles and little extras go to the big stores, the ones inside the cool kid club, I’d rather do things my own way that benefit my local regulars, and not be a part of any large machine that doesn’t support that.

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

Oh hell yes! Since I was a kid, my brothers got me into collecting, and my tummy still tickles with excitement when I see a box of vinyl anywhere! It’s a passion / hobby turned business. I’m living the dream!

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

I joined a couple of local business chambers, and one of them was run by Stefan Goldby. He helped start a big record store in Long Beach CA, called Fingerprints. He’s been invaluable as a resource for local business connections as well as helping me see a larger picture for growth. Another great resource has been my connection to my sales rep at All Media Supply, Luke has helped me with a larger picture as well, and because AMS is smaller than Alliance, the personal attention has given me knowledge on how the industry works.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

We have expended into also being Poulsbo’s first guitar shop and vintage clothing shop since the 80’s! We are a one stop rock shop, and it all rests comfortably within my previously mentioned “funometer” and knowledge base. Since my business plan has always been to be an attraction for neighboring cities, the different departments help us to diversify our income, and be the attraction we set out to be.

Find Melanie

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