Walking into Riverbend Records is like walking into a music lover’s dream. Row upon row of vinyl albums fill the clean, spacious, well-lit shopping area as the pleasing vibration of background music resonates throughout the store. Well-organized selections of vinyl music albums, CDs and cassettes are everywhere. A pinball machine, free Wi-Fi and a comfortable lounge area allow patrons of any age to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
Local resident Billy Hurst and his wife, Tara, own and operate the record store. The business held its grand opening on Oct. 24.
Hurst has pursued creative interests his entire life. He has operated a photography business called Front Row Photography for years and shoots photos for major concert events as well as school and professional sports teams. He has been interested in music as long as he can remember and actually worked in Nashville as a singer and songwriter for a period of time. He continues to write and perform music locally today.
He says when the pandemic came along, he had to pivot to some other means of making a living.
“My photography came to a grinding halt,” he says. “Opening a record store was always my long-term plan. The pandemic just pulled up the timeline.”
Hurst says his interest in music began with growing up in a musical family.
“My mom and dad always had music in the house,” he explains. “Beach Boys, Alice Cooper, Ike and Tina Turner, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd. They listened to all different types of music.”
Riverbend Records reflects that broad spectrum of musical interests. The store carries more than 15,000 vinyl albums by every type of artist, from Frank Sinatra to classic rock to the most current music genres.
Hurst says the resurgence in vinyl records stems from a couple of factors.
“Millennials are being exposed for the first time to a physical form of music. Music is not intended to be heard through a two-inch speaker on an iPhone,” he says. “Once they hear how it sounds, they fall in love with it.”
He says another factor is an older generation getting back to what they know is the best way to listen to music.
“People want to relive hearing music the way they heard it when they were younger,” he says.
The seemingly endless selection of vinyl in the store consists of both new and used albums. Hurst has been collecting vinyl for more than 30 years and some of the records in the store are from his personal collection. The store also carries an enormous selection of CDs and cassette tapes. Hurst does carry some eight-track and reel-to-reel tapes, but says the demand for those is not very strong.
The idea of the lounge area came from his wife.
“Tara is not as into music as I am, and she often had to wait while I shopped at music stores,” he says. “She told me if we opened this place, we needed an area where people could relax if they needed to wait for others to finish shopping.”
Riverbend Records sells water, tea and soda as well as a selection of craft beers. People can relax in the lounge area while recharging their electronic devices on the store’s USB charging ports, enjoying refreshments and free Wi-Fi, and listening to music.
Tara manages the apparel section of the store. It carries t-shirts and hoodies, along with tie-dyed apparel. The store also carries incense and burners. Billy Hurst says his wife is a certified independent health coach who supervises a daycare in St. Louis.
“She works two jobs and still found the time to help me get this business going,” he says.
Hurst says he is willing to buy, sell or trade when it comes to music. If people have questions about the value of albums they have, he can help them find out how much they’re worth. He also notes he can order music customers are looking for which might be hard to find or might not be in the store.
There is music in the store to accommodate anyone’s price point.
“We have everything from dollar records to three-hundred-dollar high-end collectables,” Hurst explains. “There are a few record stores around the area, but none like this one.
“Also, it’s a work in progress but we do have an audio room,” he says. “We’re going to sell new and used audio gear; things like turntables, speakers and CD players. Also, accessories. You might need a new needle for your turntable, cleaning kits, things like that. We’re going to have all of that.”
Hurst also points out the store strictly adheres to all COVID-19 regulations for distancing, capacity and masks. Masks are available at the door for anyone who needs one.
Riverbend Records, 2720 Grovelin, Suite B in Godfrey, is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon until 5 p.m. Sunday. The business can be reached at (618) 433-1673. Additional information and updates about ongoing activities can be found by following the store on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter.