The record store Republic of Athens Records, or ROAR, held its grand opening Nov. 19 and Nov. 20.
ROAR, 79 1/2 E. State St., started as a pop-up in Little Professor Book Center, located at 65 S. Court St., back in July. After hearing the positive feedback from the customers, Athens resident and founder Michael Wood decided to transition to a storefront.
“Certainly, the overwhelming number of people coming in every day and saying, ‘Hey, this is so great. We needed this’ (was an indication),” Wood said. “People have wanted the store for a long time.”
Lisa Kieliszewski, owner of The Standard Salon, leased the extra room she had to Wood, providing the space he needed to open his store.
In the spirit of its grand opening, ROAR raffled off autographed memorabilia and special edition records. ROAR gave away an autographed copy of British rock band IDLES’ album Joy as an Act of Resistance as well as Patrick Paige II’s album If I Fail Are We Still Cool? Both albums are special finds, and customers had to stop in the store to be eligible to win.
Although the response from the community has been mostly positive, Wood has run into some obstacles when opening his storefront.
“It's difficult because there is scarcity in the records because demand is high,” he said. “That was hard. The upfront costs a lot to lay out, (and) that's difficult.”
Although Wood receives distribution from a national partner, he also sources the records himself. Festivals, fairs and yard sales are just a few places he has hunted down the records he sells. Additionally, Wood has even traveled abroad to source vinyls.
“I snagged a bunch of stuff from when I went to Europe this summer,” Wood said. “There are a bunch of European pressings in here, which is kind of rare.”
Evidently, Wood’s hard work has paid off because potential customers were curious to check out the new local business.
“I want to see what they got,” Athens resident Michael Beebe said.
Little Professor Book Center employee Austin Vega also shared in the excitement.
“I’m glad that we actually have one, a record store, here in Athens,” Vega said. “I’m glad to have another local business in the community.”
During the grand opening, Wood was very clear about the atmosphere he was hoping to foster for the community.
“I hope people kind of treat it as their store in a lot of ways,“ he said. “For me, record stores and great bars and places like that become like my local bar, my local record store. People have ownership over those places. I hope that people feel that … and we change and grow to people’s tastes. It’s not Michael Wood’s store. It’s Athens’ store.”