The familiar flip-flip-flip sounds of customers digging through album bins will return to Twin Cities area record shops this week, but with unfamiliar new social-distancing guidelines in place.
Stores including Down in the Valley, Hymie’s, Mill City Sound, Know Name, Cheapo, SolSta, Roadrunner and Rock Paper Scissors will all reopen Monday, when Minnesota’s stay-at-home orders are officially relaxed after two months of coronavirus quarantine. Most stores are limiting its number of customers and posting rules to wear masks and remain six feet apart.
Barely Brothers Records in St. Paul, which announced plans to reopen Tuesday, is capping its space to only five customers at a time and urging them to bring masks and gloves.
“Those not wearing a mask will not be allowed to enter the store,” Barely Brothers said on its Facebook page.
Mill City Sound, on Mainstreet in downtown Hopkins, is changing its front entrance to specific in/out doorways to create one-way traffic flow. The store is also limiting its capacity to 20 customers at a time and asking them to “keep a distance of at least one cabinet of record bins between you and your fellow shopper.”
“We adore all of you and want to make sure that we doing our part in keeping all of us healthy though these difficult times,” Mill City’s operators posted.
Not all stores will reopen right away, though — and at least two won’t return at all.
The Electric Fetus is holding off until May 27, telling customers via Twitter that it still has “a lot of details to work out to keep everyone safe.” Among the new policies are a 10-person limit, lessened daytime hours Tuesday through Saturday only, and a new plexiglass partition put in place at the check-out counter.
Extreme Noise and Eclipse Records have each set a June 1 reopening date, which is also when the state's stay-at-home orders are due to end for bars and restaurants. HiFi Records is waiting for the greenlight to also open its adjoining hair salon.
Two south Minneapolis stores, Fifth Element and Dead Media, each closed permanently during the COVD-19 quarantine. Fifth Element’s operators, who also run the Rhymesayers record label, announced their closing just two weeks into the stay-at-home order, saying, “We are thankful for all the love and support you’ve all given us in return over the last 20-plus years.”
In happier news, two other south Minneapolis stores used the downtime to work on opening new locations.
Rock Paper Scissors moved from its old spot near the Parkway Theater (4806 Chicago Av. S.) into a new site nearer to Uptown at 2403 Lyndale Av. S. Roadrunner Records will reopen Monday in its usual spot, 4304 Nicollet Av. S., but has been prepping for a move two blocks south to 4534 Nicollet Av. S.
One South Side store that has ridden out many ups and downs before the quarantine, Know Name Records at 6009 Portland Av. S., has been building up stock during the quarantine and wants customers to know it’s not going anywhere.
“I can’t wait to get back to spinning and peddling music,” longtime Known Name record slinger Danny Beck said.
Many of these stores improved their websites and turned to delivery and curbside pickup during quarantine, and most of them will continue to do so in the coming weeks.
Twin Cities Record Stores
Reopening this week: Hymie’s, Down in the Valley, Cheapo, Mill City Sound, Barely Brothers, Roadrunner, Know Name, Rock Paper Scissors, SolSta.
Not yet: The Electric Fetus (March 27), Extreme Noise (June 1), Eclipse Records (June 1), Agharta (date TBA) and HiFi Records (TBA).
Permanently closed: Fifth Element, Dead Media.