Vinyl records shop set to open in Poulsbo

Owner wants to make Liberty Bay ‘destination location’

When Melanie Peters moved from San Diego to North Kitsap last year, she wanted to open a vinyl records business that had a similar feel and atmosphere to the shops she experienced growing up in Southern California.

On April 8, Peters’ business Rockin’ Ruby’s Records will open its new storefront in Poulsbo on Lindvig Way near Liberty Bay.

“I’ve been into record-collecting since I was a pre-teen. When I decided to leave California, I was like if I’m ever going to decide to do this, now is the time. We actually looked for a small town like Poulsbo. I love the topography, I love the small-town feel, and Poulsbo has never had a record store before,” she said.

Peters grew up in Santa Barbara and would often head to the record store next to the original Habit Burger Grill, which has locations across the country. When she received her allowance as a child, she would stop by the shop to buy records and to hear performances by local musicians.

“It was a place you could learn about new music, you could learn about stuff before your time, you could buy gifts,” Peters said. “It was just a really cool community vibe, and I want that for Poulsbo.”

Peters initially began to hold pop-ups for record sales out of a 7×12 foot cargo trailer, something she experimented with in San Diego. Her inventory consisted of thousands of records, spanning many genres and timeframes. “I had bins built for it, and I would literally roll them into the trailer,” she said. “It was received so well. In a four-hour time span, I did a great amount of business. And it was fun! It is 100 percent a labor of joy.”

This winter, Peters drove to Southern California to do some inventory shopping, stopping at different places along the way. She came back to Poulsbo with around 5,000 LPs and ended up getting the storefront, which was an old yoga studio. “I really do pride myself on the store having diverse taste,” Peters said. “There’s a bin in the store called ‘weird s***.’ When you travel, you just try to buy as much as you can and sort it later.”

Peters wants to see the whole Liberty Bay area become more involved in arts and entertainment, similar to downtown Poulsbo. “I hear it used to be an area that was much more shopped; it’s kind of gone down for a while,” she said. “We could really make it into a destination corner. Downtown Poulsbo has its own association, and I would love to do that for the Liberty Bay area and get more artisans, retail and vintage shops.”

Peters said the business is named after her mother, who was a roller derby queen in Rockford, Ill. “It’s kind of an homage to a woman in a man’s world if you will,” she said. “I’ve been in the music business most of my life, and it was difficult coming up,” referring to her time as a guitarist and music producer for a few bands.

While most people nowadays, especially kids, tend to listen to music on streaming services like Spotify and Amazon, Peters realizes it’s an uphill battle for vinyl record sales to compete with that. But she did point out that for the first time since 1987, vinyl record sales are outpacing CD sales. While streaming services aren’t going away anytime soon, she said there are many advantages of listening to a whole record from start to finish.

“It says more about the decline of CDs then the rise of LP because streaming is still number one far and wide,” Peters said. “There is so much more music available than what your phone can show you. You have to tell your phone what you want to hear or an algorithm is telling you what you want to hear,” she said.

“There’s so much more music that’s been made previous to now than kids realize. With an LP, they get the chance to hold it in their hands. They may know that one song but there’s 10 other songs on that record that they never would have heard. Our objective is to make sure that kids, in particular, learn how to take care of records.

“We call it the 22-minute per side exercise routine because every 22 minutes you have to get your butt up and turn the record over,” she said.

Besides records, the store offers turntables, stereo gear, CDs, cassettes, 8 tracks, books on music and musicians, along with other unique and vintage items.

Peters said she will still have pop-up record sales at events like Viking Fest. She also eventually wants to have live performances in the store.

“I want to have kids’ talent shows in the shop,” she said. “I’m thinking big because I want to pull people from Tacoma to come to this shop. I think we can do this, especially with some other businesses like-minded, and make Liberty Bay a destination location.”

To start, the shop will be open Thursdays through Sundays, but hours will vary as staff is limited. Peters said they will be looking to hire more employees, and might even expand to multiple locations. A separate component of the store is a LEGO section, run by Peters’ sister Mary.

“We’d love to be open every day if we have the support to do that,” she said. “If things go right, we might take this concept and duplicate it someplace else. I would like to keep it in Kitsap or a little bit further south.”

Paintings of famous musicians on vinyl records.
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