- Richard Sitts
Music—no matter the genre—is often the soundtrack to some of our happiest, saddest and most profound memories.
Keith Schuman, who owns Bend's Recycle Music, says he remembers listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival as three of his older brothers opened up the draft notices they'd received in the mail.
Inspired by his older brother, Doug, Schuman says he started collecting records when he was 13, and hasn't stopped since. "He kind of helped me form my taste in music," Schuman says of his brother, who died about 10 years ago. "I wish he was here to be a part of this." The brothers listened to a lot of classic rock, including the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Santana and Steppenwolf. Years later, when New Wave hit the U.S., they dove into The Clash, The Jam and other, more obscure bands.
Schuman lives and breathes music—and thanks to him and four part-time employees, others can, too. Opening Recycle Music on the corner of Bond Street and Arizona Avenue in 2012, the store was a hit from the get-go. He says the real push was to make sure no one else beat him in opening the second record store in town, after Ranch Records downtown.
"Bend was just ripe for a new store," Schuman says, adding that he's not sure Bend could support a third record store. "We're all friends," he says of the folks at Ranch. "They're all good people. We phone each other looking for stuff. We work well together to fill customers' desires and needs."
Schuman had his first record store in Beaverton in the early '90s but had to give it up for a union job with good benefits for his young family.
This time around, Schuman bought an inventory of 22,000 used records from a store in Tacoma, Wash., that was going out of business. He then found the current rental space and was in business. Before opening the doors, he spent the first month "pricing records, building racks and getting freaked out." He worked every day for the first six months, but "I soon realized there's no way this was going to be a one-man show and retain any sanity at all. I found the right people right off the bat who are still here," helping to build a solid and loyal customer base.
"We kind of promote a clubhouse atmosphere, where people come in to talk music. We try to make it less about the cash register tape and more about being a local, neighborhood record store. I really enjoy the people who come in here—a lot of interesting people," Schuman says, adding that he knows most customers by name.
His customer base is "really diversified" in their personalities and the kind of music they're seeking out. "You kind of gotta keep something for everybody," he says. "It's a good day when good vinyl comes in. The thrill of hunting them down gets me going. I get to listen to all kinds of music that I've always enjoyed."
- Richard Sitts
Schuman says he enjoys the buying more than the selling, "finding things that are cool and hooking them up with the end user who is going to enjoy it."
The store's business is about 75 percent vinyl, but also stocks CDs, DVDs and other rock memorabilia, Schuman says. The store also sells vintage stereo equipment, including receivers, preamps, turntables, speakers and even 8-track tape players. Customers with ailing stereo components can drop them off to be repaired by a stereo technician.
And if all that's not enough, there's Digger, the store cat, who always appreciates a good head pet. Digger, once homeless, is now the store mascot. Schuman figures Digger is at least 15 years old, with quite the customer fan club.
Schuman was born in Bend on "Hospital Hill" and has remained in the city, except for stints living in the Portland area and Florida. He and his wife, Tracie, have five kids between them, all boys, ages 18 to 29. Always quick with a laugh, Schuman adds, "I get them to help out when they owe me money."
And when Record Store Day rolls around again next April, don't miss the party with records galore, free food and beer, and a handful of local bands jamming in the garage behind the store.
"It's just about appreciating the customers," Schuman says.