Have you experienced Dandelion Records yet?
– by Rachel Fox/photo by Jessica Bardosh
If it’s one thing that Vancouver (and really, any city) can use more of, it’s independent… anything.
The commodification of the music industry in the past decade – from Napster to iTunes – has resulted in a massive shift in the way we experience and acquire what we listen to. To paraphrase the Barenaked Ladies, the days of “driving downtown in the rain, 9:30 on a Tuesday night just to check out the late-night record shop” is just not something, sadly, people do so much anymore.
But that’s not to say that they can’t, or don’t want to.
Fortunately a vestige from our collective not-so-distant past thrives at Dandelion Records, helmed by the husband-and-wife team of Jeff and Laura. Dandelion Records actually sells vinyl. Lots of vinyl. Vinyl you can actually listen to at listening stations. The store specializes in original pressings and new, hard-to-find releases from obscure bands that are probably so cool and hip you haven’t heard of them (unless you are actually someone who does go to late-night record shops purely to peacock your erudite tendencies with record store clerks like Jeff, who has been collecting for years).
In addition to their collection of vinyl, Jeff and Laura have stocked their store, located in the newly hip and burgeoning cats-in-the-cradle hood below Broadway where Main gives birth to Kingsway (an area heretofore known as “Low-Main”) with all kinds of interesting design doo-dads from far-flung places like Victoria (also the source for the store’s Silk Road Tea stock).
Laura, whose own background includes a stint in the design world, explains that the store is as much an emporium as it is a record store, thereby inspiring its attractive boutique-funk feel. “I don’t sell anything I don’t like,” she said. “Everything here fits with the aesthetic.”
My eye is immediately drawn to a bamboo iPhone case from Vers ($49). The sleek design and clever contrast between natural material and complex technology is subversively whimsical, which reflects the underlying vibe of the store. As something of a throwback or anomaly in the current market, Laura concedes that she sees herself and Dandelion, in some way, “fighting against big chain stores.”
She smiles as she recounts a recent episode involving a regular customer, and I share my own history as a former record store clerk. For a moment the experience bonds us, and I am reminded how much I miss and crave the personal attention and experience one can really only get in small, boutique environments. I find myself trying to remember the last time a real-life behind-the-counter audiophile recommended an album to me.
A few weeks later I run into a friend of mine, who heartily thanks me for the birthday present her boyfriend bought her – a bamboo iPhone case. I can’t take all the credit.
2442 Main Street