By Joe Grist
Web Content Contributor
Record Store Day was Saturday the 21st, and due to some technical difficulties on our end we couldn’t celebrate with you! However, it’s never too late to celebrate records (especially if you’re a college radio station). Inaugurated back in 2007, Record Store Day is an annual event held on a chosen Saturday in April to “celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store.”
With the recent shut down of San Marcos’ Hastings and ever-popular SuperFly, many long-time customers have felt that there has been a void left behind, but unbeknownst to some, an independent record shop by the name of Bad Ingredients has been making a name for itself and steadily gaining momentum among locals and collectors alike.
Having met back in 2010 at Sundance Records, Parker Wright and Walter Thorington became good friends through time spent working together and their shared tastes in music. By May 2015 they decided to start a pop-up independent record shop by the name of Bad Ingredients and have been a unique part of San Marcos’ music scene ever since. Working at venues such as Buzz Mill, Tantra, Zelicks, Jo’s Cafe, and beyond.
What is now arguably the most unique characteristic of their business, came not only from a sense of creativity but necessity as well. Having previous connections with vinyl (record) distributors but absolutely no budget to rent a store or even put down a deposit, Parker and Walter decided to start a record shop without a permanent base of operations.
“I think our first order of records was about $150 or something,” stated Parker in an interview had with Bad Ingredients in February of this year, “it was nothing.”
“It was all of the used records we had of our own that we put in,” chimed Walter, “together what we put in added up to around 1000 records. Now the store is up to around 5,000 to 6,000 records.”
Taking the records from venue to venue wasn’t easy either. Parker and Walter used both of their cars to handle and transport their product, sometimes borrowing a large truck when needed. As time went on, they began to get a feel for the market.
“Less is more now,” mentioned Parker, “We used to bring everything, but now we ask ourselves ‘Where are we going? Who’s gonna be there? What happened last time we were there? What did they ask for?’ We get a lot of special requests.”
“You really only need about twelve boxes is what we’ve learned. Twelve is all you need if you hand pick them and switch them out every week, twelve is good.”
As time went on, money started coming in, and their customer base grew. Parker and Walter began having more wiggle room for variety and personal choices.
“It then became the matter of ‘What do we want to sell?’ you know?” stated Walter. “Between the two of us, we listen to everything, there’s no genre we totally pass up.”
“It really is extensive,” said Parker, “whatever he doesn’t have, I have, and vice-versa.”
“You’d be surprised,” Walter laughed.
It was then that they started working with record labels, but it wasn’t easy as a call and a shipment. It took business savvy. Through persistent emails and constant communication, Bad Ingredients scored partnerships with labels such as Fat Possum, Light in the Attic Records, Fat Beats, and Stones Throw.
“We reached out to them, and at first they told us ‘No, we don’t do that,’ ” said Parker when discussing Stones Throw, “but we reached out to them again, saying ‘this is what we do, we really want to work with y’all’ and they said okay, and it worked out. Now we do an order every four months or so.”
“We prioritize with our favorite labels,” Added Walter, “We’ve been buying from a lot of them since Sundance days, so when we’re doing it now, we know what we like.”
Getting started with venues took social finesse as well.
“It was friendships at first. Liz and Leah here (Jo’s Cafe) just really supported us,” said Parker, “so this is where we started, and then it just turned into more places to go. Meet [sic] more people, people started asking us to come. ”
“It’s also sometimes where we have DJs we work with, and when they’re gonna do a show somewhere, sometimes it’s like ‘we might as well’ and then we work together,” mentioned Walter, “sometimes we set something up so we ask a DJ to come. It’s mutual.”
Parker and Walter’s personalities are just as important to the company’s success as well. Walter is efficient, quick-witted, and well spoken. Parker is mellow and laid back, the type that never needs to speak loudly to be heard. You wouldn’t know it when you first meet him, but he has a way with people and is able to form relationships that last.
“He’s the social one, he knows all these people, man. He has all sorts of connections. Any place we walk into he knows these people already. Blows me away.” Praised Walter. “I’m in the background managing records, setting everything up, and Parker’s over there hitting people up. It’s the perfect companionship, he knows how to talk to people, surprisingly.”
As of this year, Walter and Parker are keeping it steady, and continuing to grow. They’re not in a hurry, but they aren’t complacent either. They have drive and it’s seen every time they set up shop. They work effortlessly with customers, whether they’re first-comers or coming back for more. They give advice, talk about classics or new releases, and create a comfortable atmosphere.
That’s what makes them special, and aside from their unique business model, it’s what makes them different. There isn’t a desk between you and them or any sort of superiority in the air. They love music as much as their customers and want to share the experience.
Featured image via Facebook.