Since 2008, Richmond’s Vinyl Conflict Record Store has made its reputation on its premium selection of punk, metal and hardcore goods. People from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to the storefront in Oregon Hill.
However, owner Bobby Egger says he’s ready for the store to move to its new home.
Although he’s made many memories in Oregon Hill, Egger said the business has outgrown its familiar roots at 324 S. Pine St. and that he is excited about relocating.
The store is moving to 300 E. Grace St. in downtown Richmond. The store will continue to sell records in Oregon Hill through Sunday, and Egger is aiming to settle in the new building by June 3, he said.
Making the decision to move was a bittersweet one for Egger, who’s resided in the neighborhood for years since taking over the store in 2012. He even lived in a residential space above the retail store at one point.
“It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make,” he said. “I have a lot of attachment to that space, but I’m really excited to show everybody what the new space looks like.”
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Egger said the new space will only enhance Vinyl Conflict’s one-of-a-kind in-store experience in addition to its growing popularity in the online marketplace.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Egger said the store shut down its retail floor from March 2020 to August 2020. During that time, Egger made a big push toward selling goods online and shipping mail orders to supplement the income the store earns through in-store purchases.
When Vinyl Conflict reopened, its e-commerce continued to grow so much that the 400-square-foot space in Oregon Hill started to feel a little cramped, according to Egger.
“During the pandemic, our mail order really took off,” he said. “When we reopened in August, our online presence never slowed down. It was getting to a point where our shelves were completely full.”
Egger said the shelves were full of records meant to ship to online customers but that as Vinyl Conflict reopened, its in-store presence grew as well. The records that were meant to be shipped in the mail ended up going to customers at home, too. Egger said he started to overstock the shelves as the store’s popularity outpaced what he projected.
From that point on, Egger started looking for a larger space.
After touring a few spots across metro Richmond and with the help of John Simmons — a real estate adviser with JLL Richmond — Egger settled for an approximately 1,800-square-foot space on Grace Street.
Simmons said he was introduced to Egger through mutual friends he made at Richmond’s High Point Barbershop — another local business Simmons helped in the past.
“Working with Bobby was great because you could tell just how appreciative he was during the whole process,” Simmons said. “Vinyl Conflict’s his baby ... and you could just see it in his eyes when he walked in the new space that he saw the potential it could bring to his business.”
Justin Torone — the owner of Rest in Pieces, a local business and longtime neighbor to Vinyl Conflict — said he’s sad to see his friend leave Oregon Hill, but couldn’t be more excited for his future as well.
“Bobby has been working tirelessly to make this new spot something really special,” Torone said in an email. “It’s been inspiring to watch Vinyl Conflict’s growth over the years and with the bigger location I truly feel it will cement them in history as Richmond’s top record store. I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek inside and y’all will not be disappointed!”
Not only is there more space to expand the store’s selection of punk vinyl, cassettes, books, vintage T-shirts and memorabilia, there’s also plenty of storage and office space to meet the needs of Egger’s growing e-commerce needs.
“It’s really hard to give people the in-store experience that makes a shop worth revisiting,” Egger said. “More space means we can meet the demands of folks here in Richmond as well as the global market.”
Egger said the storefront of Grace Street also had the added benefit of being downtown, where there’s plenty of foot traffic during the day, especially on First Fridays.
At the end of the day, Egger said making the decision to move just felt right as the store’s online shop continues to grow.
He said he hopes to build something special in the coming months, something that maintains Vinyl Conflict’s reputation as a unique destination.
“Like I said, it’s really bittersweet moving from Oregon Hill, but at the same time, we’re taking the steps we need to grow,” Egger said.