Vintage vinyl store permanently closes its doors


WSU faculty member, Trevor Bond, searches the shelves of vinyl in Retro Riot for the last time prior to the store’s closing on Aug. 13.

Walk down Main Street in Pullman and miss the orange letters of Retro Riot’s storefront. Approach the glass windows and see the shelves of vinyl records and posters lining the wall. Now the view is of plain white walls and an empty floor.

Brett Borden officially opened Retro Riot in February 2016, giving Pullman its own place to buy music and games. With more than that to offer, Borden hoped for the best but due to unfortunate financial circumstances, Borden chose to permanently close his store’s doors after two successful weekend clearance sales in August.

There are many factors contributing to Borden’s decision, but money became the most significant, with issues stemming from a decrease in sales, debt from opening Retro Riot and personal financial stability.

“It was already a risk; if someone came here with more money they could do it,” Borden said. “It’s a great location; I just couldn’t take the losses.”

In order to open his shop, Borden paid more than $15,000 in renovations to get the building up to standard to apply for a permit to open. Starting off like this meant that success was imperative to keep the shop open, Borden said.

With summer comes the loss of undergraduate business, which Borden said made up one third of his sales. Borden said this contributed to his decision to close shop, but the graduate students leaving for vacation affected sales drastically.

“It’s a new month and July was down 40 percent from June, a significant drop that means I cannot afford to keep the store going into August,” states the Retro Riot Facebook page. “This is the immediate reason, but truthfully we had never experienced volume to a level that is sustainable…”

Armed with vinyl record-buying experience from a former job, Borden already knew some quirks of the trade but tried out some new products as well. In a city of college students, music is a luxury often streamed or downloaded illegally, Borden said. It is difficult for some in a college community to have extra money to buy music.

“I was the record buyer for a friend’s shop so I had some experience but the posters are new for me,” Borden said. “My theme has always been kind of retro vintage, old quirky things.”

Even on the last days of Retro Riot, Borden is lighthearted and talkative, a normal experience for all of his customers. Although unfortunate circumstances led to the closing of Retro Riot, Borden remains optimistic.

“My goal was to give this a try,” Borden said. “I started from nothing. I learned a lot. If I ever try this again there are some things I’ll do again and some I won’t.”