Category Archives: Business Spotlight

Have guitar?…Mouradian Guitar Company will fix

By JULIA CIRIGNANO

Inside the work space at Mouradian Guitar.
Inside the work space at Mouradian Guitar.

Come to Mouradian Guitar Company located at 810 Main Street in Winchester, Mass., for quality guitar repairs by skilled repairmen Jim and Jon Mouradian. This family owned business focuses on exceptional guitar and bass repairs as well as selling used guitars, basses, amplifiers and select musical accessories.

The store was founded in 1980 by guitar maker Jim Mouradian and is now co-owned by his son Jon. In 1984, Jon, who was only nine years old at the time, started helping his father with minor repairs which grew into a joint partnership that has lasted most of both Jim and Jon’s adult life. Limelight Magazine recently stopped by the shop to talk to Jon about the business he runs alongside his father.

“My dad built guitars and I would have little jobs,”  Jon explained. “I’ve been good with mechanics my whole life. I would mount the strap buttons, mount the knobs, and mount the tuners. It started off very simple.”

Jon soon became an expert in his field. Off and on from 1992 to 1997, he toured and traveled as a guitar tech with bands such as Extreme, Saigon Kick, and Big Wreck.

In 1997, at the age of 22, Jon decided to work full-time at Mouradian Guitar helping his father repair and sell guitars. Over the years, the shop has changed and evolved to follow the current musical trends.

“The business itself has not changed a ton so much as the cast of characters,” Jon said. “That kind of follows whatever the trend is in Boston. There will be times when the blue scene is huge or the punk scene is huge or the underground rock scene is huge and we see a lot more of those people. There was a time we were installing Floyd Rose Tremolo’s and putting humbuckers on stats as a very regular occurrence. Now, it’s much more about preserving guitars and maintaining as much of the original guitar as we can while keeping them working.”

Some of the most common trends Jon is seeing these days are head sock repairs, Mahogany guitars, Gibsons, Martins, bridge re-glues on flat top acoustics, and installing pickups in acoustic guitars.

When it comes to guitar repair, Jon and Jim have seen it all. Father and son have seen nasty home repairs with duct tape and bad repair jobs done by other shops. They have received guitars in multiple pieces and each time manage to restore them to their original quality.

“A couple days ago a guitar came in in multiple pieces with the headstock masking taped on,” Jon said. “That must have happened years ago and wherever they stored it insects decided to take up home in the masking tape. There’s probably 10,000 dead bugs in the tape and that’s not the first time.”

Both Jim and Jon Mouradian have established a one-of a kind guitar repair shop. They have managed to make a name for themselves the old fashion way: by creating long lasting relationships and doing quality work.

Mouradian Guitar has made a name for itself due to the two gifted men who run the shop. The shop itself is rather small, with one sign outside the door and shades always drawn. The reason this business has been successful is because of the quality of their work and the human connections they make along the way.

“My dad is super nice. Mr. Congeniality,” Jon said laughing. “But really, it’s genuine. I think people like coming and talking to him as much as having their guitars fixed. There’s also the fact that we’re blessed with whatever mechanical abilities that allow us to work on these guitars all the time and make them better without damaging anything. Years of doing a good job at a good rate.”

With so much success and only two real employees, Jon explains the difficulties they are now faced with. They are currently backed up two months since they have such a long waiting list of guitars that need repairs. While they sometimes make exceptions for musicians who need a quick repair, Jon wishes he could return guitars at a better rate.

“The hardest thing for us with everybody is the time,” he said. “We get a lot of push back on the calendar which is tough. I’m not sure what to do. If we do a terrible job for six months, turn around time would be very quick but nobody will want to come and see us.”

 While quality work is always the number one priority at Mouradian Guitar, Jon believes that building a relationship with clients is also one of the most important parts of being a store owner.

“I think what makes our world successful is that we’re nice, we do a good job, and we try and become friends with our clientele,” Jon said.

He believes this is part of what makes Mouradian Guitar better than many other guitar stores. Jon believes he has some competition from other local music stores but not much from chain stores such as Guitar Center. While they may have a bigger selection of guitars to buy, their repair center is nowhere near as skilled as Jon and his father. The interaction with their staff is mediocre and both their range and level of guitar repair skills is below average.

“No disrespect to those guys but there’s not a whole lot of people who do what we do,” Jon said. “Guitar Center will never be a competitor of ours when it comes to repair because they don’t have anybody really qualified working on the guitars. Unfortunately, I see that. Just last Saturday, I bailed a kid out. I was driving away and I saw him walk up to the door of the store. He said, ‘I’m having a ground problem’.”

Jon then proceeded to re-park his car, open the shop back up, and repair his guitar which had received a botched fix at Guitar Center. With several major problems within the guitar, Jon was able to repair everything in time for this client to go on tour.

Throughout his years working with musicians, one story sticks out the most. This story took place in the early 90’s when Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana walked into Mouradian Guitar. At the time, Jon was on the road as a guitar tech but his father Jim greeted the three musicians dressed in ragged clothes.

“It was prior to them releasing their first record,” Jon began. “They were traveling around, touring, playing clubs like tons of our friends do now. The day before they walked into the building, “Kurt L-kabombed (smashed)” both of his guitars which separated the necks from the bodies; just ripped the four screws right out of their Fender style guitars. So they came into the shop and said ‘hey, can you help us out?’ And my dad, being a dad and being understanding, said “yeah, I’ll help you out but you’re on tour, you’re making money with these guitars, you really can’t break them’.”

At the time, nobody knew who these three men were. Months later, Mouradian Guitar got a package in the mail containing Nirvana’s Nevermind album, a t-shirt, a hat, and a thank you note. At that point, Jim and Jon still didn’t know how famous they would become.

“It just so happened that they ended up becoming a world famous band,” Jon said. “There’s lots of people who we help out all the time who finish their day’s work as a plumber and then go play a gig somewhere so they can feed their families and that’s as important.”

Check out their website HERE and their Facebook page HERE.

For any inquiries, give them a call at 781-756-4877 or send them an email at info@mouradianguitar.com.

From left, Mouradian Guitar co-owner Jon Mouradian and Limelight Magazine writer Julia Cirignano.
From left, Mouradian Guitar co-owner Jon Mouradian and Limelight Magazine writer Julia Cirignano.
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Vintage record store to open in downtown New Bedford

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Purchase Street Records is located at on Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA (PHOTO BY ROGER CHOUINARD)
Purchase Street Records is located on 767 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA (PHOTO BY ROGER CHOUINARD)

Looking for a store with a variety of vintage, heavy metal music along with classic rock and punk records? Roger Chouinard will be hosting the grand opening of his new shop Purchase Street Records on Saturday, December 3rd. The shop is named due to its location at 767 Purchase Street, in New Bedford, Mass. This shop will sell a variety of vintage records, tapes, and T-shirts focusing on the theme of heavy metal, punk and hard rock music.

Chouinard recently spoke with Limelight Magazine about why he chose to open up the store.

“I took a year off from my previous ownership,” he explained. “I’ve been doing the buying and selling throughout my life and I’ve always enjoyed music because I play drums and I have a musical heritage with family members.”

Chouinard chose to open up the shop in New Bedford because he grew up in the area and has pursued music within the local music scene.

“My bands and I see this as a forthcoming city in the arts district,” he said. “I really just wanted to bring music back to the area as when I was growing up it was a city that everyone of them wanted to play and make a name for themselves in.”

At Purchase Street Records, Chouinard will mainly be selling vintage records, tapes, and T-shirts. Many of his items are rare finds since Chouinard has been collecting rare metal, punk, and hard rock items for years.

“I’ve collected so many heavy metal/hard rock items in bulk because I know that style of music and for some reason it finds me,” Chouinard said. “I have a lot of Euro metal, heavy metal, and even indie titles. With that said, I also have some of the best classic rock collections that you can find and you know everybody loves classic rock.”

As a business owner, Chouinard has set some goals for Purchase Street Records.

“My goals are for the shop is to be an outstanding business in the community and bring back vinyl,” he said. “I hope to make somebody’s day when they find a record they been looking for forever.”

Not only is Chouinard a lover of music but his uncle, the late Bobby Chouinard, also inspired him. Bobby was the drummer for Billy Squier, Beggars and Thieves, Peter Wolf, and several other acts.

“My uncle taught me that anything can be achieved and you treat people the same way no matter if they are on their way up or on their way down,” Chouinard said. “Everyone’s a person no matter who, what or how they’ve lived in life.”

At Purchase Street Records, Chouinard will also be selling his uncle Bobby’s book titled Bobby Chouinard: Drummer Extraordinaire. The book was published by Roger Chouinard and it’s about Bobby’s life and the different bands he played with.

“If you’re a lover of music please go like our Facebook page, Purchase Street Records (click HERE), and if you’re not a big music collector please pass on my name to somebody that is. I hope everybody has a great holiday,” Chouinard said.

TJ’s All Star Band Program: Inspiring Young Musicians to become Rock Stars

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

TJ's All Star Band performs at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
TJ’s All Star Band performs at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

If you’re an aspiring young musician and ever wondered what it’s like to be in a band or perform in front of a crowd of people, then it’s time to enroll in TJ’s All Star Band Program!

Found by Todd Salpietro, owner of TJ’s Music in Fall River, Mass., TJ’s All Star Band Program functions as a way for young musicians to become genuine rock stars, giving them the opportunity to rehearse and play live with other musicians on a real stage in front of a real audience.

“It took some tweaking along the way but I really feel like the program we have now is special,” said Salpietro. “I think that when people see this they will want to be part of it.”

In 2011, Salpietro had been teaching private music lessons for about 15 years. He enjoyed his work but wished his students could play with other musicians. As a result, Salpietro decided to start the All Star Band Program. Over the years, it has grown and the benefits that members acquire has been better that Salpietro could have expected.

TJ’s All Star Band functions as a way for young musicians to become rock stars. Currently, the band consists of about 18 students who range in age from 10 to 18. The youngest member started playing with the All Star Band when she was only seven. The older band members are around 18. Although there are similar programs and music camps in the region, this one is undeniably different.

“After a year of practicing, these kids live the songs,” Salpietro said. “Now we’re really starting to see the quality in the students of professional players. It’s amazing when you see these kids play you think they’re kids and, ‘aw it’s cute kids are playing,’ but it’s not like that. They are really really that good.”

Salpietro talked about the program and its goals for each student.

“Here at TJ’s Music we promote a performance-based music lesson program where we’re always working towards an ensemble,” he said. “We do three recitals a year for our private instruction lessons and we also do the All Star Band shows.”

The All Star Band used to play three shows a year but recently Salpietro has decided to put on one show a month with the band. Because of this change, the band members are now always working towards a show. There is a steady stream to regular practice and performances in which they learn not only how to perform but also what to expect at a show, how to set up the stage, how to plug in their instruments, etc.

“I just want them to become the best player and the most knowledgeable player that they possibly can be,” he said. “I want them to have the tools that I had to learn on my own.”

Salpietro spoke about the high standards which he holds for his students. He treats them with the same respect he would a musician his own age and expects the same type of respect, commitment, and work ethic from them. He explained that his students work very hard to be as good as they are. They aren’t treated like children who all get participation ribbons but as true, seasoned musicians who have to learn how to accept criticism and grow from it.

The students typically meet once a week and practice with the guidance of Salpietro and four other musicians.

“We meet every Wednesday night from 6 to 8 p.m.,” he said. “We have four music mentors. We have Gary Faria, Joseph Rebelo, Dennis King, and Danielle Hasket.”

Along with the band’s weekly practice on Wednesday nights, they are also allowed to use the practice room whenever it is available. Salpietro rents out the room to other bands to practice but All Star Band members can typically get as many extra hours of practice a week as they would like.

“They can come in and practice any day and they do,” Salpietro said. “It’s really awesome because we’ve facilitated almost a 24/7 place for them to practice with all the equipment there and it’s all top of the line gear.”

After students leave the program, they are fully prepared to join the music world.

“You came here and you learned the tools,” he said. “Everything here that you learned you can go and do a gig with. You know how to set up a stage and prepare for the ensemble. You know how to prepare your song. You know how to conduct a practice. They learn everything here. It’s not just a recital where you learn your parts and play them.”

Salpietro spoke further on what he believes is the most important part of the All Star program. Although this wasn’t his mission when he created the program, it has become a characteristic of the program that he is most proud of – the ways in which his students gain confidence.

“We watch these kids go from telling me that ‘I am deathly afraid to step one foot on that stage’ to their playing every song in the set and they’re absolutely loving it,” he said. “Gaining that confidence and the team building skills to be able to get on stage is so important.”

Members of the All Star Band are all very close, calling this program their family. Salpietro talked about the confidence and team work that these musicians gain from being in the band. While some people may use sports to gain these skills, musicians work together in a band just as a football or dance team.

“This is the dark side. These are the other guys,” Salpietro said with a laugh. “They don’t really participate in that type of stuff. They play in a band. We’ve created that place to be able to go and gain those life skills. These are real deal life skills that they are going to use for the rest of their life and not only playing music but at their jobs.”

Salpietro doesn’t choose to shelter his students from the realities of both life and the life of a musician but he is careful when selecting venues for his students. With musicians as young as ten years old, he is very careful to not subject them to a bar full of drunks or any possibly dangerous situations.

“We play at bars but we usually rent the bar out for the afternoon where the only people drinking are the parents,” he explained. “That’s something that is really important to me. I don’t think at their age that they should be exposed to that kind of thing.”

One venue that Salpietro likes his All Star Band to perform at is the Narrows Center for the Arts, located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Salpietro knew they had made it to a new level when they got invited to play there by the venue’s Executive Director Patrick Norton.

“He invited us to play at The Narrows and it was the best phone call I have ever gotten,” said  Salpietro, who also taught music lessons for both of Norton’s children. “I am so fortunate to have a venue like The Narrows invite our kids to play at. It feels good.”

In fact, TJ’s All Star Band will be playing their next show at the Narrow Center on Sunday, November 20th at noon. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

While the All Star Band typically targets younger musicians, Salpietro is also interested in expanding this age range. Although he has never set an official age cap, he said musicians usually want to go out on their own once they’re around eighteen year old.

Consequently, Salpietro said he would love to host a separate, older group of musicians if he found people who were interested. He said people sometimes have uncomfortable feelings when they learn a new instrument later in life. He would like to be able to create a safe environment for older musicians where they can feel free to explore new instruments, mess up, practice, and perfect their skills.

“When you’re in your 30’s and you’re trying to play an instrument, where do you go?” Salpietro said. “You’re kind of embarrassed. You don’t want to go to an open jam and play the three chords that you know. You want to come to a safe haven like this where we’re all learning and we’re all sharing the same common interest. A place where if you make a mistake, I’m not going to laugh because I just made the same mistake a half-hour ago.”

Looking ahead to the future, Salpietro said he would like to see the program grow.

“I would love to expand things. However, I think I have expanded to the level of what we could financially handle,” Salpietro explained. “If I had numbers of like 30/35 people coming in, we would be able to do a lot more. That’s why I’m trying to build this. I really believe that this deserves so much more than it gets.”

TJ’s Music is located at 347 South Main Street in Fall River, Mass. Visit their website by clicking HERE.

Hudson Horror Show gears up for December horror movie marathon

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Halloween may be over but the Hudson Horror Show is gearing up for 12-hours of horror and cult 35-mm films on Saturday, December 3, 2016, from noon to midnight at Empire South Hills 8 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Now in its sixth year, Chris Alo founded the Hudson Horror Show in 2010. At that time, he planned to host only one show, but because of its enormous success, he has continued programing and hosting this biennial event ever since.

For these movie marathons, people come from all over the Northeast to attend them. Each event is a 12-hour movie marathon where Alo chooses six films to show — five announced movies and one surprise feature. People are also drawn to this event because of the wonderful reputation that the local vendors at the show have acquired, selling a variety of horror-themed merchandise and more.

In an interview with Limelight Magazine, Alo introduced us to a boy destined to be hosting horror movie marathons.

“I was the first guy to get two VCRs and now I’m the first guy to get a surround sound system,” Alo said. “I was always the guy who was having my friends over to watch movies. Having access to all the different versions of film, I would hunt out rare and obscure movies and trailers. I have always been a big fan of horror and sci-fi so I was always the guy who was presenting movies to my friends.”

As the years went on, Alo’s love for both the genres of horror and sci-fi and his passion for 35-mm screenings grew. He attended many 35-mm movie screenings with his wife Denise McGuigan and one day she said to him, ‘Wow, you enjoy this so much, why don’t you try putting on your own show?’”

Along with the support of his wife, Alo had a friend who has greatly helped him on his journey.

“I had a friend [Tad Leger] who worked for Grindhouse Releasing and specialized in re-releasing films on 35-mm,” Alo said. “So we got together and we put the first show together, thinking that we’ll do it this one time and never do it again, but it was a huge success and here we are 20 shows later.”

Alo is very passionate about screening movies off 35-mm. He finds this type of movie projection very special and nostalgic and many people agree with him.

“I’m an old guy and I’m a nostalgic guy,” Alo began. “I like collecting old comic books and old toys and old posters. So to me, seeing these movies the way they were meant to be seen is very much a nostalgic thing. It’s like playing a record. It might not have the crystal clear sound of a CD. It might have the occasional hop or scratch but the whole thing of putting a record on a turntable and lifting the arm all adds to the experience and the charm of it and to me it’s the same thing as showing movies the way they were meant to be seen off 35-mm film with tons of old school 35-mm drive-in trailers before each movie.”

The Hudson Horror Show brings people from all over the Northeast for their biennial 12-hour horror movie marathons on 35-mm film.
The Hudson Horror Show brings people from all over the Northeast for their biennial 12-hour horror movie marathons on 35-mm film.

Since the first Hudson Horror Show which took place on May 22, 2010, this event has grown and evolved. Part of the event’s continued success is due to their endurance. In 2010, 35-mm screenings were more popular but as many theaters stopped screening in this format, the Hudson Horror Show became a bigger commodity.

“So now, us showing movies exclusively off 35-mm film has definitely grown to mean much more than it did,” Alo said.

Two more changes have also taken place over the past six years which has greatly influenced the Hudson Horror Show. Although the shows are usually hosted at Empire South Hills 8, Alo has also partnered with Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY, where he occasionally hosts shows. With more accessibility to theaters due to his reputation, Alo has been able to expand his events more and more as the years go on.

“When we started we were in one theater but we’ve grown so popular over the past six years that we actually are in two rooms now in the same theater now,” Alo said, “What we have now is two separate festivals running at the same time and we alternate the schedule.”

This year’s Hudson Horror takes place on December 3rd at Empire South Hills 8 in Poughkeepsie, NY. The films which have already been announced are I Spit On Your Grave (1978), Robocop (1987), The Howling, Death Race 2000, and The Hitcher (1986). There will also be a screening of a sixth surprise film.

These six films will be shown in theaters #1 and #6. Get your tickets soon because theater #6 is already sold out! Both rooms will be playing the same movies just in a different order. You can check out the schedule HERE.

“The lineup I think is really good,” Alo said. “I’m biased but I think some of the lineups in the past were not as strong as this one.”

Along with the announced lineup, Alo spoke about the mystery movie.

“We have a great horror mystery movie,” he said. “I can’t say much about it but it’s definitely a fan favorite.”

Alo talked about the way in which he chooses the films for each event. He said that he likes to focus on variety so there is something for everyone to enjoy whether you prefer the funny horror movie, serious horror movie, sci-fi horror movie, etc.

“I think that’s kind of our niche,” Alo explained. “Other people will program a show where they’re running five zombie movies in a row or five Friday the 13th movies in a row but I think mixing it up makes it more interesting because there will be something for everyone.”

Alo spoke about the struggle he faces when trying to choose movies and then finding them. For instance, he talks about two movies that he hasn’t been able to find which are both fan favorites and a Limelight Magazine favorite.

“I absolutely love the Death Wish movies,” Alo said. “The problem, which is a problem that always plagues us, is we don’t know anybody who has 35-mm film prints of the [first two] Death Wish movies, but if we could find them we would definitely love to run them.”

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At each Hudson Horror Show, vendors sell a variety of merchandise available to anyone even if you don’t buy a ticket to see the movies.

Along with the movie screenings, there will be many local vendors at the show who will be selling a variety of merchandise available to anyone even if you don’t buy a ticket to see the movies.

“We will have about 20 vendors,” Alo said. “The way the theater is set up we have like a double lobby. There’s an outside lobby and an inside lobby. So we fill up both lobby areas with about 20 vendor tables and they sell all sorts of merchandise such as t-shirts, posters, magnets, comic books, action figures, homemade art, art prints, homemade horror related keychains, CDs, Blu-rays, just all sorts of stuff.”

Along with running these successful movie marathons, Alo has also been a successful magazine and newspaper writer for the past fourteen years. He has written for magazine such as Hit Parader, Circus, Metal Maniacs, and Metal Edge, and interviewed many hard rock bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Guns N’ Roses, Slipknot, Disturbed, Rush and Judas Priest.

“I interview bands, do concert photography, and do concert reviews, mostly for heavy metal bands,” Alo said.

Although many of the magazines that Alo has written for are unfortunately no longer published because the internet put them out of business, Alo still writes.

“Now I write for More Sugar Magazine, which is a local entertainment newspaper,” he said. “There is also a magazine in South America that I write for called Roadie Crew.”

Tickets for the December 3rd Hudson Horror Show are just $38.00 in advance and can be purchased HERE.

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After 13 years, Fright Rags continues to produce the best horror T-shirts

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

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The Rochester, NY, based company Fright Rags has produced some amazing T-shirts over the past 13 years. Pictured above is the out of print Halloween V1 T-shirt. (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY BEN SCRIVENS)

Ben Scrivens, President and CEO of the Rochester, NY, based business Fright Rags, recently spoke with Limelight Magazine. Scrivens founded Fright Rags in 2003 and has worked tirelessly since then to keep their mission of making the “best horror shirt designs period” intact while expanding and evolving in a positive direction.

“It happened pretty organically, really,” said Scrivens when asked about why he decided to open a horror-centered T-shirt shop. “I am a graphic designer by trade and was looking for something to do in my free time to let off some creative steam. I’ve always been a huge horror fan (and a fan of weird and interesting T-shirts) so I decided to combine the two because I never had any cool shirts to wear based on my love for the genre. Once I posted them on my friend’s forum (Justin Mabry of Nightowl Productions), people seemed to like them so I thought I’d start up a website and sell them.”

Over the past 13 years of business, the company has evolved in many different ways.

“What started out as just me with a couple boxes in the spare room of my apartment is now a business that employs eight people (six of whom are full time) in an office/warehouse (that used to be the old morgue) in downtown Rochester, NY,” Scrivens said. “Even though we are still a small company, it has grown bigger than I had ever imagined. However, the goal is still the same: make the best damn shirts and provide the best service, period.”

Scrivens also spoke about the ways in which he has grown as a business owner.

“I did not go to school for business so it has been all on-the-job training for me,” he said. “As we grow, so does the need to figure out how to handle that growth, lead people, and create the culture I want to have around me at all times. These are things I never thought about when it was just me sitting at my computer building the website from scratch.”

Fright Rags’ website states that it has the “best horror shirt designs period.” Scrivens explained the process of how he comes up with the T-shirt designs.

“The process differs depending on the artist, property, and other factors,” Scrivens began. “In general, it starts with us getting the license for a specific property. Once we sign the deal, we think about what we want to see on a shirt and who we want to work with to create the designs. Sometimes, we have very specific ideas that we give our artists; other times we tell the artist to run with it and only give them the limitations we may receive from the licensor. Then, we look at the rough draft and make notes, send for approvals, and eventually get to the final design. It’s a long but fun process and usually by the time the public sees them, we’ve been staring at them for a few months so it’s great to see everyone’s reactions when we finally reveal them.”

Many of the T-shirt designs at Fright Rags capture those favorite moments or scenes from a particular film.  Scrivens said this is one of the main things that sets Fright Rags business apart from other niche T-shirt companies.

“Many companies tend to just slap images they are given from the licensor onto the shirt with the title,” Scrivens said. “While that has its place, we have always focused on the original art that we commission from artists as a cornerstone to what we do and I believe that it what helps set us apart from everyone else.”

Fright Rags recently launched some T-shirt collections with musicians such as Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie.

“Both artists have been pretty involved with the designs and we were given a fair amount of leeway when creating them,” Scrivens explained. “We worked through our licensor and Alice’s management to get approval. For Rob, I worked with him directly on all of our designs. He’s a great guy and has a lot of constructive input on our designs, which has made the process not only smooth but also very collaborative.”

A big part of Fright Rags’ success is due to their user friendly website. It has a lot of unique features such as the ability to request reprints of past T-shirts.

“We used to bring back a set amount of reprints each month but these days we only focus on the best-selling items and keep those in stock,” Scrivens said. “Like any product, there is a life cycle and we track sales on all items to see what is selling, what is not, and adjust. In general, we bring back four to six designs every month but that varies depending on what we are releasing at any given time. There is no guarantee that a shirt will be back, so it’s always good to grab it when you can because it might be gone for good.”

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The currently out of print “Chum Bucket” T-shirt from Fright Rags is President and CEO Ben Scrivens favorite designs. (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY BEN SCRIVENS)

When asked what his favorite T-shirt design has been over the past 13 years, he said, “That is a tough one because I think of these shirts as my kids. However, a few of them are Chum Bucket, Halloween V1, and Kill Destroyers.”

Another unique trait of Fright Rags is their Midnight Madness T-shirt sales which have been quite popular. Scrivens talked about how he came up with this idea to release one-of-a-kind shirt designs for only 24 hours without the ability to ever purchase them again.

“I always liked the idea of releasing limited edition shirts that you had to jump on to get it in time or they were gone forever,” Scrivens said. “I wanted to do something that made me remember staying up late on Fridays and Saturdays as a kid, watching horror films, so releasing these late Friday to late Saturday seemed like a cool way to recall our childhood memories.”

Scrivens also talked about one of the horror conventions in Cherry Hill, NJ, that Fright Rags has been a part of for a while now.

“Monster Mania in Cherry Hill are the two shows (March and August) that we participate in on a regular basis,” Scrivens said. “It’s hard for us to get out to a lot of shows but we plan to add some more in the future. While they are great for marketing, I also love getting out there and meeting our fans and customers. They become the celebrities to me as I can finally put faces to the names we see on our screens every day.”

Besides conventions, Scrivens talked about the other ways in which he markets and promotes Fright Rags.

“We focus mainly on our email newsletters and social media for our advertising, as well as a few print ads,” he said. ‘We are extremely fortunate in that people like to share our stuff, so word of mouth has been instrumental to our growth.”

With the holidays coming up, Scrivens explained that this is definitely his busiest time of the year for him.

“Things pick up in September and are busy right through mid-late December,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with the types of things we release around this time of year but obviously Halloween and Christmas play a huge role in that as well.”

Scrivens would like to thank everyone who has supported and continues to support Fright Rags.

“I just want to say thank you to each and every person who has ordered from us, posted a pic of themselves in a shirt, tweeted us, liked us on Facebook, or visited us at conventions. Every person who has interacted with us in some way has helped make this company what it is today. That is something I do not take for granted, ever.”

For more info about Fright Rags or to purchase a T-shirt or any of the other products they carry, click HERE.

The out of print Kill Destroyers T-shirt from Fright Rags is another favorite of owner Ben Scrivens.  (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY BEN SCRIVENS)
The out of print Kill Destroyers T-shirt from Fright Rags is another favorite of President and CDO Ben Scrivens. (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY BEN SCRIVENS)

10 record store owners from New England talk about vinyl’s resurgence

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

photo-vinyl-resurgence

Over the past few years there has been a resurgence in vinyl records sales throughout North America. Hipsters are credited with bringing the trend back in the hopes of preserving the authenticity of vinyl. Now, this trend has become part of popular culture again.

In 2015, sales of vinyl records were up 32 percent to $416 million, their highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Unlike the 1980’s, records are now sold practically everywhere, not just in record stores but in places such as Urban Outfitters, Barnes and Noble and even Whole Foods Market. Businesses make decent money selling vinyl and continue to stock and advertise them.

Since people still appreciate the authentic, sweet sound of vinyl and hope to preserve it for generations to come, Limelight Magazine recently spoke with 10 record store owners throughout New England about the rise in vinyl record sales and why they believe this is happening.

Burlington Records (170 Bank Street, Burlington, VT 05401)

http://burlingtonrecords.com

Jacob Grossi, owner of Burlington Records in Burlington, VT, believes that there has always been an interest in vinyl but it has recently risen due to the substitute not being good enough. Vinyl was replaced by CDs so that music could be more mobile but not everyone is looking for a mobile way to listen to music. Many people still love vinyl records and hope to savor their originality.

Grossi has personally seen an increase in vinyl sales at Burlington Records and talked to Limelight about what he has experienced.

“We’ve had a vinyl only store for ten years. The change over the last ten years though was that we got more new releases,” Grossi said.

He explained that people not only want vinyl records as collectables but they want new and upcoming albums to be available in vinyl format.

Grossi’s favorite album to listen to on vinyl is (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay by soul singer Otis Redding. Grossi also made sure to also specify that he’s talking about the original cut.

Cheapo Records (538 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139)

http://www.cheaporecords.com

Allen Bay has owned Cheapo Records since the ‘70’s. Over the past few years he has seen a sudden increase in vinyl records sales.

“A few years ago I realized that we’re actually selling more vinyl than CD’s and now we’re selling a lot more,” he said.

Bay talked about the value vinyl records have and how this has changed over the years.

“Records were something you had to have 50 years ago or even 40 years ago. Now, I think it’s more of the fact there are so many young people with disposable incomes. It’s a great hobby. It’s not addictive and it doesn’t put people out on the streets. I think vinyl is great. Young people who are into analog sound, buying old used records, get to hear things the way they should have been,” he said.

Bay also gave his opinion of why he thinks vinyl sales have increased.

“It’s a fad,” he said. “50 years ago everybody who listened to music had to have records. Now it’s an upper middle class, mostly white male, trend. Although I do have some dieheard female customers.”

Bay also talked about another different between vinyl records now compared to what they used to be.

“Not too many people are just buying everything,” he said. ”They’re getting into this, they’re getting into that. I think the internet drives both the interest and the titles.”

Bay mentioned some of his favorite records to listen to on vinyl.

“I grew up as a teenager in the ‘50’s so I like what we called rock ‘n roll,” he said while giving examples, “Ladders, [The] Flamingos, and The Black Keys.”

In Your Ear Records (462 Main St., Warren, RI 02885)

http://www.iye.com

Reed Lapplin, co-owner of In Your Ear Records spoke briefly about why he believes people are interested in vinyl again.

“They’re all bored with their computers,” he said. “They’ve all been staring at their screens too long.”

Lapplin said that he has noticed this rise in popularity within his store.

“Well it’s been going on for a while,” he said. “It’s not the first vinyl revival. It’s happened four or five times already.”

Joe’s Albums  (317 Main St., Worcester, MA 01608)

https://www.joesalbums.com

Limelight Magazine spoke with Joe Demers, owner of Joe’s Albums, about the increase in vinyl record sales. He said that he has seen an increase, “Definitely over the last couple of years, especially the last year. There’s been significant increase that’s coupled with the customer age rang getting a lot broader than it used to be.”

Demers gave his opinion on why he thinks this resurgence in vinyl is happening.

“It might be a push back against downloading music and not physically having anything,” he said. “Vinyl is a bit more of a tangible experience to hold something, put it on the table itself, and maybe sit and read the record sleeve while you’re listening to it. Also, I think you listen a lot more rather than just having music as background noise if you’re streaming or just have something on shuffle.”

Demers had two more possible reasons for the increase in vinyl record sales and interest.

“People in their 40s and those age ranges who grew up with vinyl are now getting back into it,” he said. “Honestly, I also think that the industry is behind it a little bit and pushing it because I don’t believe they make much off a 99-cent or less download and vinyl records are kind of pricey.”

Demers said that his favorite record to listen to on vinyl is Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd.

Music Connection (1711 S Willow St., Manchester, NH 03103)

http://www.musicconnection.us

John Benedict, owner of Music Connection in Manchester, NH, has seen “a steady increase” in vinyl sales and he talked to Limelight Magazine about why he thinks this is happening.

“I think it’s the physicality,” he said. “I think the other reason is that it’s a way to get away from your device. It provides a comfort and solace away from all the other things that take up your time. It’s a getaway.”

Benedict believes that although CD’s once replaced vinyl, streaming music is becoming the most common way to listen now. With devices such as Pandora and Spotify, anyone can listen to a variety of music for free. Benedict talked about why experiencing vinyl is better than streaming music.

“You literally have to physically place it on the machine and be an active participant,” he said.” I think that’s something that’s a novelty to a younger generation. It’s a conscious decision. I mean, there’s the cool aspect but also if you’re on Snapchat or Instagram or any of those things you need a break and I think vinyl provides that break.”

Benedict talked about the relationship that vinyl creates between the musician and the listener that he believes can’t be replicated with streaming music.

“The other thing is, if you’re dealing with a larger graphic platform you have a 12 by 12 inch place to put artwork,” he said. “You can put little trinkets or extras. You can make the vinyl a different color. You can do glow in the dark covers. There are just so many things you just can’t do with a stream or a download that make it a little more special and make a statement from the artist to the listener.”

Benedict talked about his favorite albums to listen to on vinyl and why.

“It’s Revolver by The Beatles,” he said. “To me, it’s one really great listen. I never get tired of it. I always hear something new and fresh. I hear attention to detail. The songwriting is strong. There’s experimentation. The cover’s black and white and it’s a pen and ink drawing with photos. I just think it’s pretty amazing.”

Nuggets Records (486 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215)

http://www.nuggetsrecords.com

Stewart Freedman, owner of Nuggets Records in Boston, MA, spoke with Limelight Magazine about why he thinks vinyl has had a sudden comeback. While he has definitely noticed this trend, he isn’t sure why this is happening. Here are his thoughts.

“It could be the movie High Fidelity,” Freedman said. “Also, some customers think that it might be Jack White the guy from The White Stripes because he has his own record store and really pushed it. I thought that was a little far-fetched but maybe. Also, a lot of kids come in here and tell me that a few years ago they were finding their parents albums in the attic or something.”

Freedman talked about his personal connection with vinyl records.

“I don’t know specifically why but I always thought they were cooler than CD’s,” he said. “When I was a kid you’d have your friends over to look at an album and you would pass around the cover and play the record. I don’t know if people really did that with CD’s. I don’t think they would pass around the booklet because they are so small you can’t really read them.”

When asked what he favorite vinyl album was, he answered, “I like the older stuff like [The] Beatles, [The Rolling] Stones, [Bob] Dylan and there are a lot of good bands out now too that I like such as The Decemberists.”

Round Again Records (278 Wickenden St., Providence, RI 02903)

http://www.roundagainrecordsri.com

Limelight Magazine spoke with Steven Kotler who has owned Round Again Records for 36 years. His store has had great success, although he described it as, “a little 600 foot mom and pop store.”

Kotler doesn’t know exactly why people are suddenly interested in vinyl right now but he has a clear idea about why vinyl has lasted as long as it has.

“Vinyl records sound better,” he said. “They’re tactile. It’s something you can actually hold in your hand. It’s got a great cover.”

Skeletone Records (50 N Main St., Rochester, NH 03867)

http://skeletonerecords.limitedrun.com

Todd Radict, the owner of Skeletone Records, talked to Limelight Magazine about the rise in vinyl popularity and why he thinks this is happening.

“Because it sounds better,” he said. “CD’s always have a high tone pitch that to me is very irritating. Vinyl has a warmer feel. It’s also that you can see the artwork. With CD’s you can’t really see what’s going on. It’s more of a luxury than a CD is. You have to take care of it. If you don’t take care of the record you might not be able to get another one because it might sell out.”

Radict explained the rise he has been in vinyl sales at Skeletone.

“That’s our biggest seller in the store. We have over 100,000 records in the store,” he said.

Spun Records (6 Grove St., Dover, NH 03820)

http://spundover.com

Mark Matarozzo owner of Spun Records, spoke about his opinion on why there has been a sudden interest in vinyl records again. Matarozzo said that he has seen both an increase in vinyl sales and an interest in vinyl again at Spun records

“I think there’s a couple different levels of it,” he began. “There’s an interest through the kids that are hearing about it more and then there’s an older generation that hears ‘oh, the thing that I liked when I was younger is back’. I’ve actually have people here in their mid-forties getting back into vinyl.”

Matarozzo explained a common reason why people prefer vinyl: it’s physical qualities.

“I also think that part of it is that people like to have something tangible,” he said. “Something you can actually hold and unless you get into buying new records, the price for used records is actually pretty reasonable. You can come in with twenty bucks and walk out with six or eight records.”

Matarozzo also talked about his favorite album to listen to on vinyl.

“I usually go with something like Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs. I really enjoy that record and also some of the stuff I listened to when I was in school and younger. I’ve always liked Tool too.”

Sunset Records (1232 Wilbur Ave., Somerset, MA 02725)

Bob Boyer, owner of Sunset Records, spoke about the current resurgence in vinyl sales. He talked about how this sudden vinyl popularity is within many different generations. Because of this, he gets many young people experiencing vinyl for the first time instead of older generations revisiting vinyl.

“A lot of my customers are kids so it’s new to them,” he said. “They’re listening to things that were pre-digital like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.”

Boyer’s personal favorite vinyl record is an acoustic album by the late Sandy Bull titled Inventions. Bull is a folk singer who Boyer believes has created some amazing music even though he was never very well known. Although he wasn’t a big act, Boyer explained that his music sells well to this day, possibly due to the quality of the acoustic sound on vinyl.

It’s nostalgia and more at The Time Capsule

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

photo-time-capsule

The Time Capsule is a store owned by Rob Yeremian. The main location is in Cranston, RI, and the other is in Seekonk, MA. The main store in Rhode Island will be celebrating its 13th anniversary with a big sale that will run from October 22nd to October 28th.

Yeremian owned The Time Capsule Comics from 1993 to 1998. In 1998, Yeremian explored the rising interest in online shopping and began to sell comics and collectibles that way. In 2003, Yeremian decided to reopen the store but with a bigger variety of sales items, so he cut comics out of the name.

With abounding success, Yeremian decided to open a second store in 2010. He chose to hire Jeff Tundis, the first ever employee at The Time Capsule Comics in the ‘90s, to manage this second store in Seekonk.

Limelight Magazine spoke with Yeremian last week about both of his stores and what to expect at their upcoming 13th anniversary sale.

“I started out doing comic book conventions in 1986 and, after some years of doing them, I decided I wanted to run a store,” he said. “A year before I graduated college I opened my first store and after I graduated I just continued to run my store. I never had to apply for any jobs. I had lots of freedom to do what I wanted and I could be my own boss.”

 The Time Capsule Comics had decent success selling comic books and toys, yet he decided to sell the store in 1998. He talked about why he made the decision to close the store after many years of success.

 “I sold the store in 1998 because I wanted to move to Los Angeles,” Yeremian explained. “I didn’t want to look back at my life and be disappointed that I had only lived in one state my whole life. Turns out I really loved living in Rhode Island so I moved back about eight months later.”

 “When I returned from LA I opened another storefront in Warwick which only lasted for a brief time. I joined E-bay late in 1998 and closed the store so I could concentrate on online sales,” he continued.

At first, Yeremian had success selling online but after 9/11 in 2001, the company began to decline. By 2003, Yeremian was forced to close his online business but this unfortunate end led to an even better beginning.

“In November of 2003 I reopened a storefront in Cranston, RI, and just called the business The Time Capsule,” Yeremian said. “I dropped the name comics because I wanted the new store to be more than just comic books. I missed the interaction with customers and also realized that there were many collectibles that were better suited to sell in person than online.”

 While some may consider this a re-opening of Yeremian’s old store, it was much more than that. The new Time Capsule has gained far more success than the first store or Yeremian’s online business. This success may be due to the fact that Yeremian decided to sell a bigger variety of products at The Time Capsule in Cranston.

 “Since selling the store in 1998, my interests in collectibles had expanded,” Yeremian said. “Also, even more importantly, at the dawn of this digital age, I knew that to have a successful brick and mortar store you needed to bring in a bigger group of people to survive, let alone thrive. I was watching stores of all kinds of variety getting ravaged by online competition and didn’t want to be another casualty of Amazon and related sites.”

photo-time-capsule-2
The Time Capsule sells a variety of merchandise such as vintage video game, and anything else cool that they can find. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Today, The Time Capsule sells a variety of merchandise such as comic books, records, toys, vintage video games, older sports cards, magic cards, and anything else cool that they can find.

Even since their opening in 2003, The Time Capsule has grown and improved. For starters, Yeremian now owns the building which he once rented. It has also changed in other ways.

 “I expanded the store into the adjacent storefronts and expanded the floor space dedicated to records and video games,” Yeremian said. “The amount of vinyl records and vintage video games that I sell has really surpassed my expectations.”

 Although records and vintage video games sell very well at The Time Capsule, their biggest selling item is still comic books. The Time Capsule has also expanded into an online business through eBay.

“eBay has allowed me to sell many, many types of collectibles that I would never be able to sell locally,” Yeremian said. “I have sold off collections of soda bottles, vintage magazines, transistor radios, laser discs, marbles and I could go on and on.”

The Time Capsule also sells a wide selection of music on vinyl, 45, and CD.

“For vinyl, we focus on rock n’ roll and jazz but we also have a good selection of R&B, soul, country, comedy, soundtracks, classical and even easy listening,” Yeremian said. “We get a large variety of customers so we try to have something for everyone. We have a high turnover on LPs and we restock the LP section every week. We have a good selection of 45s as well in most of the genres I mentioned.”

Surprisingly, Yeremian explained that he does not sell many CDs.

“As far as CDs, we are not as aggressively buying them anymore,” he said. “The sales of CDs have dropped over the last few years so while we still carry some, we’re not taking them in like we used to.”

 Yeremian also talked a about his second store in Seekonk. When it opened in 2010, Yeremian offered the position of manager to Tundis and he was pleased with his decision.

“Jeff was my first employee at the original store back in the 1990’s in Warwick,” Yeremian said. “He and I stayed friends and for 12 years we were in a band together. His job at the time was relocating and I opened that store because of Jeff’s availability. Jeff is very knowledgeable about the items we sell and he also has the right type of personality to deal with the public. He has done a terrific job managing that store.”

While it hasn’t been as successful as the first store, it has been successful in its own right.

“The Seekonk store is not as big as the Cranston store and the Cranston store has been around for a longer time period,” Yeremian explained. “Because I have been doing this for almost 30 years, I have a good number of customers who have been doing business with me for decades so I have that advantage as well over the second store.”

 Yeremian talked about the difference between the two stores.

“While the stores are very similar there are some items I sell in Seekonk that I don’t sell in Cranston,” Yeremian said. “I also decided to have all the out of print trade paperbacks and graphic novels sold there. They have an amazing selection of these, probably the most in southern New England.”

The main store in Rhode Island will be having its 13th anniversary sale from October 22nd to October 28th.

 “The sale consists of 65% off back issues comics in the boxes, 50% off all records, video games and toys and 35% off wall comics and trade paperbacks and graphic novels.”

Both Time Capsule stores have been successful. Although nothing is set in stone, Yeremian talked about his plans for the future of his business.

“I’m not against a third store but the right manager and right location would have to present themselves,” he said. “Otherwise I am happy with my two stores. I also like working with local artists and creative people. I was the executive producer of the film Tales of Rocky Point Park. It’s been a great success so far and Jason Mayoh, the director, and I are contemplating another project.”

Check out The Time Capsule’s website HERE for more information!