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Earshot Music in Winston-Salem purchased by owner of Hippo Records in Greensboro
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Earshot Music in Winston-Salem purchased by owner of Hippo Records in Greensboro

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Earshot Music in Winston-Salem will reopen on Saturday as Hippo Records, said owner Patrick Lemons.

The store has been closed since last Sunday for some remodeling and restocking.

Lemons, the owner of the Hippo Records store at 2823 Spring Garden St. in Greensboro, bought the Earshot Music store at 3254 Silas Creek Parkway in Silas Creek Crossing shopping center on March 1.

This will be Lemons’ second Hippo Records location.

Alan “Phred” Rainey, the previous owner of Earshot Music, died in January after a long battle with leukemia.

“I was really sad to hear the news of Phred’s passing,” Lemons said.

Lemons, who lived in Winston-Salem from 2008 through 2009, said he had known Rainey since the early 2000s and would shop in Earshot Music, which once went under the name the Record Exchange.

Lemons said Rainey approached him about buying the store prior to his death.

“In the circumstances, I am definitely honored that he had an interest to want me to come in and continue on the legacy of the store,” Lemons said.

Lemons’ friend Gigi Galdo said Lemons is involved in supporting the community.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, he immediately offered support to anyone who needed it,” she said. “It’s great to see him succeed and it’s not surprising that his expansion came hand in hand with supporting a friend.”

Aaron “Emceein Eye” Brookshire, a friend of Rainey, has shopped in Earshot Music since 2007.

“I’m glad it’ll still be a place for customers of Earshot and maybe new customers for Hippo to discover cool music,” Brookshire said.

Hippo Records

The Hippo Records store in Greensboro sells new and used vinyl records, but the location in Winston-Salem will offer new and used CDs and vinyl records, just as Earshot Music did.

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Lemons, 37, said he is happy to join an already vibrant retail scene that is already selling vinyl records — Underdog Records and McKay’s Winston-Salem.

He plans to double or triple the current merchandise in his Winston-Salem store.

“That’s what makes the Greensboro store do so well,” he said, saying the store offers all the genres, including rock, pop, reggae, hip hop, punk, heavy metal, jazz, blues and soul as well as soundtracks.

But, Lemons said, his Winston-Salem store’s offerings will ultimately depend on what people in the community want.

“It is a business, but it is something for the community,” he said. “If the community wants a particular thing then I want to provide it.”

Post pandemic times, he hopes to bring back live music performances to the store.

Lemons founded Hippo Records officially in 2013 at its current location in Greensboro.

He had previously worked in the record store industry for five years.

“It was an industry that I knew, and I liked the idea of seeing what I could accomplish,” he said.

Demand for vinyl

The biggest change Lemons has seen in the record store industry since he’s been in it is the popularity of vinyl records.

“Every demographic is into it — age, sex, religion,” he said.

Part of the reason is the tactile nature of vinyl records.

“The fact that you can actually have something …. Once you have it, it is yours,” Lemons said. “If you don’t lose it, you can’t lose it.”

He said a lot of people like the artwork on vinyl records and the sound quality.

“And it’s a collectible,” he said. “A lot of times, especially with the boom, you’re seeing stuff that you bought two years ago for $20, now is sought after … And a lot of them are limited (editions) and they don’t continue to print them after a certain time.”

He doesn’t see the love for vinyl as a fad, saying that people will continue to use both digital music (streaming) and vinyl records.

“Records have been going up in sales for about nine years straight,” he said. “That’s not a fad. A fad might be two years.”

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@fdanielWSJ

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