Re-Animated Records Comes to Life

La Mesa finally gets a record shop of its own: Re-Animated Records

“As you can see, it’s pretty cluttered at the moment,” Re-Animated Records co-owner Nicholas Friesen tells me as we step inside his soon-to-be-opened shop in La Mesa Village.

Amid the plastic sheeting on the ground covered in paint splatter, unhung wooden shelves, and the boxes upon boxes of records yet to be catalogued -- San Diego’s newest record shop is taking shape piece by piece.

And it’s coming together quite quickly: The store (located at 8320 La Mesa Blvd.) hosts its grand opening on Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a bountiful spread featuring donuts from Donut Panic, pizza from Pizzeria Luigi, and cold brew/iced tea from Public Square. While Nic and his co-owner wife, Lynn (and a few devoted friends/volunteers), are hard at work getting everything prepped -- the entire neighborhood already seems to be buzzing with anticipation.

“We're getting a lot of excitement and positive affirmation from local residents and other business owners,” Nic said. “Everyone seems to agree that La Mesa has needed something like this for a while.”

It’s true. While San Diego has its share of go-to record shops, there’s a notable void in a large, eastern part of the county.

“We chose to open our shop in La Mesa because we loved living there and there's really no one selling records east of North Park,” he told me. “La Mesa Boulevard is thriving with good restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. It just seemed like a really good fit."

For Nic -- a longtime San Diego musician who currently plays bass in hardcore band Crime Desire (they play Tower Bar on July 1) and previously toured with King Dude up until a couple years ago -- the idea to open his own store wasn’t exactly an impulsive thing.

“I've wanted to open my own record shop for as long as I can remember. I started working at Music Trader in high school and have been working in record stores pretty much ever since until the last shop I managed closed down in 2010. Since then, I've worked at a few other shops in town, but it never felt the same. I've continued to buy records and purchase collections in the meantime but selling stuff online just isn't as enjoyable as interacting with people in a retail setting. I've made several attempts over the last few years to make something like this happen but there was always something keeping me from fully committing to it. This time, everything just went right.”

When Re-Animated Records officially opens on June 10, patrons can expect a wide variety of treasures to sort through including used CDs, cassettes, books, toys, old horror movie posters, DVDs -- even an assortment of vintage clothing upcycled/designed by Lynn herself (visit her Etsy store here). And while, initially, most of the vinyl for sale will be used titles (they recently purchased a gigantic collection from a friend in Alabama), new records will soon be offered as well. Either way, the owners will be eager to see what patrons are interested in and go from there.

“We’ll definitely be carrying a wide variety of genres and titles,” Nic explained. “I'd like for anyone that comes through to be able to find something that excites them. I'm hoping to carry a lot of metal titles that you might not see around town, but that's a work in progress. More importantly, though, I'm anxious to see who my regulars are going to be and what they're after. I'm far more interested in providing people with what they want than I am in showing them what I think is great.”

Of course, the hot topic in the music industry these days seems to be Record Store Day (RSD) and whether it’s actually become a boon or a detriment to the overall scene in the past few years. According to Friesen, he’s got mixed feelings about the whole thing but plans to participate.

“We definitely intend to carry RSD titles when they're made available ... I understand both the enthusiasm that some greet it with and the vitriol directed toward it by others. It's a complex issue, but ultimately I think I can put aside my cognitive dissonance toward manufactured collectability for a few days a year if it means making our customers happy.”

Spoken like a true businessman. As for the Re-Animated Records name and the cartoon logo? The professed horror-genre fan says it fit the shop perfectly.

“I've always loved the ‘Re-Animator’ movies, alliteration, and terrible shades of the color green. It was the name we hated the least when it came time to fill out that paperwork. It grew on us and made more and more sense over time. Selling used records isn't all that different from bringing dead things back to life.”

Re-Animated Records, located at 8320 La Mesa Blvd., hosts its grand opening on Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Be sure to check ‘em out.

Dustin Lothspeich books The Merrow, plays in Diamond Lakes, and runs the music equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.

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