COLUMN: River City Sound Joe’s Records says goodbye

Ariana Beedie

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After nine years serving the Evansville area, Joe’s Records closed its doors. The record store made an abrupt move to Marion, Ill., for placement in a mall with 75 percent occupancy.

Nick Schenk, 28, began working Joe’s one year after the store opened in 2005. As Schenk stared into his coffee, he talked about how Joe’s Records affected him.

“I grew up there, (I) started college there while working there and my entire stint of college was at Joe’s,” Schenk said. “It was a second home to me. I loved that place.”

Joe’s Records stood as one of the only locally-owned record store besides a short running local record store named Heirloom Records, which also closed. The first location opened in 2004 on University Boulevard, and then an Eastside location was opened one year later.

Another local record store, the Book and Music Exchange serves students from USI and University of Evansville.

“Most of our business there was vinyl business, we didn’t have that much of a vinyl selection on the west side,” Schenk said. “So we just thought it made more sense to have a location with a great vinyl collection and one with a great CD collection.”

A few years after, the Westside location moved to Pearl Drive which stood until the move.

While working at the store, Schenk also used Joe’s as a place to study or just hang out after closing. As one of the longest running employees, Schenk became accustomed to the record-store lifestyle.

“You would have your big days, like Record Store Day, Black Friday and Christmas season, but there was never a point where there was a consistent year of business,” Schenk said. “You had your dismal times but also had really good times to balance it.”

Since Joe’s Records was the final local record store in Evansville, the area is left to corporation owned stores like Coconuts and Barnes & Noble that don’t feature exclusive material.

“It’s really hard for Evansville to get good material unless you’re looking through iTunes and Bandcamp or getting (it) off Amazon or anywhere else,” Schenk said. “The Evansville area is definitely missing out.”

Derek DeMaree, another long term employee of Joe’s Records, managed the west side location for nine years until the doors closed. A lot of the relocation had to do with the price of rent on the west side.

“Joe’s (is) moving the store to a location that’s financially better,” DeMaree said. “This year wasn’t the greatest year for business, and Joe got a great real estate opportunity.”

The store might come back and set up somewhere in Evansville for Record Store Day in April, he said.

A major issue the store ran into was a lack of support from the university community.

“Honestly, the university really stopped supporting the store a couple years ago as far as the die-hard students coming in,” DeMaree said. “I had more high school kids coming in than college students.”

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