Blind Rage Records | Photo by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian
Blind Rage Records opened in the music-driven city of Dayton during the coronavirus pandemic. They sell vinyl records from punk and hardcore artists from their location on Watervliet Ave.
An extension of the record label
Musician and Blind Rage Records owner James Downing-Groth named the store after his independent record label of the same name.
The Blind Rage moniker was earned through one of the owners’ projects.
“We actually named the label Blind Rage purely because we were in a band that was called that, and we were sitting on boxes of t-shirts that already said it,” said Downing-Groth. “It has become this joke that the name went from a band to a label to a store. We joke that we’re going to open a food truck or something.”
A new business idea
Downing-Groth came up with the idea for the store about three weeks before its opening because of an overabundance of the label’s records sitting in his house.
“I’ve sold at record fairs for the past fifteen or so years, and I was already sitting on boxes and boxes of records for that, so we had an easy start,” said Downing-Groth.
He did not inform anyone about the store’s opening until the week before. Blind Rage Records is unique for an opening during the pandemic, a crisis that has caused many small businesses to struggle. However, that situation did not affect the record store’s early days negatively.
“I think that the pandemic made a lot of things easier because not a lot of people are looking for retail spaces in the middle of a global pandemic, and, also, going down to apply for all of the permits and stuff was really easy because there were no lines,” said Downing-Groth. “No one was there.”
The location picked for the store is a small office space situated in Dayton’s Belmont neighborhood. Downing-Groth believes that stumbling upon this spot was the best possible scenario that could have happened for the store.
“It was perfect, and a right place, right time kind of situation,” said Downing-Groth.
Finding the perfect album
Blind Rage Records opened to the general public on Aug. 1, and the store was expanded two weeks ago to double the number of records that could be displayed.
Only three customers are allowed in the store at a time, and they are required to wear masks while inside.
Downing-Groth believes that the shop opened at the right time because Daytonians were hungry for new music and the local record stores were closed at the time.
“You always have to have music,” said Downing-Groth. “I listen to music literally all day, every day. It’s an easy thing. People always buy records, people always buy music, and it’s not like a restaurant. It’s a different experience. You’re not going to come in here to sit with four of your friends and enjoy drinks. You’re coming in to dig and get your stuff and get out.”
This aspect, looking around a shop for new vinyl, is Downing-Groth’s favorite part of music.
“I love finding records,” said Downing-Groth. “Finding something you’ve been looking for is the best thing, and that’s always been what got me is the physical aspect and hunting.”
Though punk and hardcore music is a major part of the shop’s catalog, customers browsing the shelves at Blind Rage Records can expect to find albums from a variety of genres.
Geography major Kenna Thomas and psychology student Lindsey Shaffer had not heard of Blind Rage Records, though they are both interested in visiting the store.
Thomas recently began collecting vinyl records. They enjoy going to record stores to look at album art and seeing rare editions of records along with what their family recommends to them.
“My parents used to play them on the weekends when making brunch, so it definitely makes me nostalgic to play records,” said Thomas.
Shaffer believes the best aspect of visiting these stores is seeing how much life has changed between the days of vinyl and the digital age.
“I think it’s so cool how we stream it digitally now,” said Shaffer. “People who have full rein to get music through YouTube can support the artist in a different way by purchasing records. I don’t personally own any, but I love how we can be transported in time by a record.”
A member of the community
Downing-Groth is proud that customers consistently journey to his shop to purchase music, and is thankful to be a member of a non-competitive record store community.
“Both Omega and Skeleton Dust have helped me out with stuff, and they’ve both hyped up the store,” said Downing-Groth. “[Our] stereo came from Omega. We have good stores in Dayton and we’re all friends, which is awesome.”