As a longtime collector and avid music fan, Louis Charette envisioned a career as a producer, arranger or songwriter. He came to Nashville from Kentucky about seven years ago, and following his graduation from Belmont’s music business program, briefly operated a small studio with another friend where they produced demos and collaborated on writing songs for aspiring performers.
While Charette enjoyed that venture, it wasn’t working to his satisfaction.
“It’s so tough to make your mark in the music business from that end,” Charette said. “I came here thinking this would be what I would do, but after a while it became less appealing.”
After looking around Charette decided to try something different, and decided to open his own record store.
The Groove, located at 103 S. 11th St. in East Nashville’s Five Points area, has now been in business a couple of weeks and Charette plans a more expansive grand opening celebration later this month. The store carries new, vintage and used CDs, vinyl, DVDs, books, and other items.
One area where Charette has established himself as different from other competitors is compiling an impressive selection of what he deems “DJ-oriented albums and singles.”
“We have a lot of the 12-inch singles in dance music and electronica that you’ll hear the DJs playing in the clubs,” Charette said. “There’s actually been a resurgence of interest lately in vinyl among music fans, especially young ones. You have a lot of kids who are buying their first turntable and taking over their parents’ collections. You also have artists that are now starting to put out product not only on CD but also on vinyl. So we’re being very conscious about carrying vinyl in the store, having plenty of things that you won’t necessarily find at some other stores that aren’t into carrying vinyl like we do.”
Charette is enthusiastic about the prospects for record retailers, even in today’s environment where downloading has resulted in sizable sales dips for CDs the past few years.
“Well vinyl has been the only area where there’s really been an increase over the last few years,” Charette said. “I know there are plenty of people who still enjoy being able to see the artwork, liner notes and actually have in their hand something tangible as opposed to just getting it off iTunes or something and putting it on an iPod.”
Idiomatic versatility is another area being emphasized by Charette at The Groove.
“We’re really interested in stocking all types of music,” he said. “We do have a large rock section and carry many classic albums in vinyl and we’re getting good traffic from the singer/songwriters in the community. We also have a large soul and R&B section, and we’re selling quite a bit of reggae and ska as well. I think that people are happy to see that we’re really trying to carry a diverse amount of music, because this area is a very eclectic one, and we’re getting all kinds of people coming to the store — different ages, people with flexible jobs — who like the fact that now there’s a place in East Nashville they can come for their music needs.”
While CDs and albums are the core of The Groove’s business, they’re not the only things the store carries.
“We’ve actually done fairly well so far with selling books,” Charette said. “But I’m not trying to be a bookstore. It’s more books on music or popular culture. We’ve had people come in and buy some titles about graffiti, and I’m always looking for titles with a connection to the arts as well as music. We have the same philosophy in regards to DVDs. We’re not trying to compete with Blockbuster or Hollywood Video, but if it’s a title that’s music-based or has some pop culture connection, then we’re interested. “
The Groove’s hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They’re also open Sundays from 1-6 p.m.
“The greatest thing that’s already happened to us is the thanks that we’re getting from people all the time,” Charette said. “They come in, go through all the areas, and then say that they’re really thrilled that there’s finally a store in East Nashville where they can come and find some good music, rather than having to go driving all over the place looking for stuff or even having to do all their buying online. We’re still getting things going, and have plans to keep on expanding until we really make this a place where people who love music will always be able to find something they couldn’t find anywhere else.”