To the untrained eye, most independent record stores seem the same.
Retail space is largely allocated to compact discs and used DVDs, with a much smaller area reserved for vinyl record sales. Many stores host live performances by local bands or touring artists—although some do it with more frequency than others. Typically, the main difference between establishments is how much new vinyl they sell, versus used. But, in the case of Portland's Jackpot Records, all of that changes upon closer inspection.
First, both Jackpot locations—one on Hawthorne and one on 9th Avenue have nearly the same footprint for vinyl as they do for other media. In fact, the 9th Avenue store has a very impressive wall of vinyl greeting you upon entry. Second, an attribute unique to Jackpot Records is that it isn't just a place for selling music; it's a place for making it.
Jackpot started its own record label in 2004 with the aim of re-pressing and releasing albums from bands that long ago tumbled into the abyss of obscurity. The music from punk band The Wipers as well as '70s Portland wrestler Beauregarde, among others, have found new life on Jackpot's label. Not only that, but Jackpot has also taken up the mantle of releasing new music from bands like avant-garde rock artist Utrillo Kushner, who records as Colossal Yes.
The Jackpot release by Colossal Yes, Loosen the Lead And Spoil The Dogs is an outstanding vintage-tinged, forward-thinking rock album infused with jazz. It serves as proof that when it comes to picking out the next great thing, Jackpot is investing money in the right places.
Releases like Loosen the Lead as well as 2011's Grok by Quasi member Sam Coomes' side project, Crock, have also meant that Jackpot has been the only store in the U.S. to have its own record release on National Record Store Day. With a formula like that, Jackpot could turn into the first self-sustaining record store in the world. How's that for unique?
Even without realization of such a bold fantasy, Jackpot remains one of the better places to find vinyl in Oregon. If for no other reason than it's the only place certain vinyl can be found. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it also has an amazing selection of new records.
203 SW 9th Ave. & 3574 SE Hawthorne