“That would be the goal that I’d like to achieve. Longevity.” Brendan Boyle bought Folk Arts Rare Records from the owner/founder, Lou Curtiss, who was an old man at the time of the sale. Boyle is 34. Does he see himself sitting behind this same counter decades into the future? He says yes. “Records are trending up right now. Things are looking good, based on a year and a half of ownership. But,” he admits, “that’s only a year and a half.”
Folk Arts Rare Records first opened in 1967 and in its time grew associations with the San Diego Folk festivals and the Adams Avenue Roots festivals. Boyle took over in 2014 and moved the entire shop to its present location on El Cajon Boulevard. For Record Store Day on Saturday, April 16, Boyle says he plans to host bands and extend his store hours.
Otherwise, it’s a typical afternoon at Folk Arts: while a landmark Sun Ra free-jazz disc discharges currents of raw dissonance from the shop’s stereo rig, a woman named Ingrid is hoping Boyle will buy up the several cartons of old vinyl — along with a fruitcake tin filled with 45s — that she cleaned out of her late mother’s attic. Boyle inspects each and every one and divides them into piles, all the while answering questions and greeting customers: “I’m good at multitasking.”
Boyle admits that the majority of his customers are serious record accumulators, but that where the business is experiencing an uptick is among teen record-buyers.
“A lot of the vinyl resurgence is in classic rock. I sell a lot of those kinds of records to younger collectors.” He’d like to appeal to even more of that same age group of vinyl fans. “I’m trying to stock as much interesting stuff as possible. I’m trying to appeal to, like, everybody.” He laughs. “Anybody,” he explains, “who seeks out music and has broad tastes.” But, unlike the dozen or so other vinyl outlets in San Diego, Boyle doesn’t lean much on internet sales to turn the monthly nut.
3072 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park
“I might sell five or six records a month online. I try to make the store a more interesting draw. I’m able to do that because of San Diego — we get a lot of tourists here.” That, and he claims to be different from other vinyl vendors in that he holds back zero product for his own collection.
“One of the perks of this kind of business is that the owner gets all the really good records. Well, I don’t do that. I sell everything. Besides, my customers usually become my friends. I can go over to their houses and listen.”