Tucked away at the back corner of the Linden Hills Farmers Market on Sunday, behind the wildflower bouquets and homemade paella, the fresh vegetables and herbal tea, music blared from a bus. But this bus wasn’t yellow, and it wasn’t on its way to school. Instead, it’s bright blue and the seats have been replaced by records.
It’s the Rockin’ Roller, and it’s now on tour.
Keeping with the Twin Cities’ put-it-in-a-truck trend, Rockin’ Roller is the area’s first vinyl store on wheels. The bus serves as an on-the-go retail space for Solid State Vinyl Records, owned by Hannah and Phil Borreson in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood.
“It’s just very us,” said Phil. “What I like most about it is that it just makes it easy for us to bring the music to everybody.”
The couple admit that it’s nice to get some time out of their quiet storefront — located “up the road from the DQ by the Falls,” Hannah repeated to customers — but this isn’t the first time they’ve taken their records on the road.
Before the bus, Phil used to load all his equipment — including turntable, stereo gear and over 500 records — in the back of his Mazda3 hatchback.
“It was like a Tetris deal,” he said, referring to the 1980s video game in which players stack colored tiles into blocks.
After seeing the Minnesota Art Truck founded by sculptor Matt Swenson, Phil decided to make his own. He was told: Don’t pick a vehicle that a food truck would use. So in June, the Borresons bought a 2002, 16-passenger Thomas school bus from Craigslist.
With the help of some friends, it took him about a week and a half to renovate the bus, including tearing out seats, removing rusted bolts and adding racks to hold the records.
“It wasn’t pretty,” he said of the conversion process. “There were a lot of sparks.”
But he’s happy with the results.
“I kind of wanted something that looked like the store,” he said. “If you’re familiar with us, you walk into the bus and you’re like, ‘Oh, I kind of know where I am.’ ”
One bus seat remains. In the rest of the space, wooden crates hold music by the likes of Bob Dylan, Chicago, of Montreal and Phoenix. Two crates feature mystery packs wrapped in brown bags, both 33⅓ and 45 rpm, for “easy listening.”
Work on the exterior wasn’t quite as extensive. The bus was repainted blue with silver finishes. The side of the bus reads “Rockin’ Roller” in loopy, black script with a record in the center.
Phil sets up his DJ set outside the bus, complete with speakers to move the music from the sleeves onto the streets.
The bus sells more than just music.
“We kind of bring the stuff that people who are getting into vinyl again or people that are getting into vinyl for the first time would want,” said Phil.
That includes shirts and bags with the store’s Solid State logo. At the farmers market, Hannah passed out logo stickers to younger patrons who eagerly hopped on the bus. (Maybe more school buses should play funk?)
Jameson La Barbera wore his sticker like a nametag on his shirt — and went home with a few records.
“Jameson picked out ‘History of British Rock,’ ” said his dad, Mike La Barbera, 38. “I got the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California.’ ”
The elder La Barbera, who said that for him any vinyl store is “hard to pass up,” supports the store going mobile.
“I think you can reach more people,” he said of the bus. “It’s like if your neighborhood doesn’t have one [vinyl store], it’s fun to jump in there and check it out.”
Chris Lankford, 36, was working a nearby pastry stand at the market and decided to stop in and peruse the selection. He found a Kris Kristofferson and a Muleskinner blues compilation album.
“It’s almost a food truck but for vinyl folk,” he said.
The farmers market was just the first stop of the day for the Rockin’ Roller, which made an appearance at the Cabooze later that day.
Where to find the bus this month:
Aug. 10: Modist Brewing, 5-10 p.m.
Aug. 11: Sociable Summer Market Fest, noon-5 p.m.
Aug. 19: Linden Hills Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.