Lexington record store owner reflects on decision to close, seek new local location

Posted 7/12/23

Downtown Lexington’s only record store will soon be an online-only business, but the owner hopes to find another location in town in the near future.

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Lexington record store owner reflects on decision to close, seek new local location


Downtown Lexington’s only record store will soon be an online-only business, but the owner hopes to find another location in town in the near future.

Kingsley Waring — better known as DJ Kingpin (AKA The Villain of Vinyl), a longtime steward of the Midlands hip-hop scene — opened Turntable City at 202 A W Main St. in 2017, moving into a building just down the street from the Icehouse Amphitheater and the town’s recently resurgent dining and nightlife district that also houses M Gallery Interiors.

But the time has come to close up the cramped shop with crates of vinyl records taking up a large amount of the available floor space, with Waring temporarily giving up having a brick-and-mortar at the end of July to seek a more conducive space. 

Turntable City’s hours for the remainder of the month are 4-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 12-6 p.m. on Saturday. Online sales will continue at turntable-city.com.

The Chronicle caught up with Waring to chat about Turntable City’s future. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Chronicle: You say in your announcement that you’ve outgrown your current space. How much bigger do you feel like you need? What are you looking to add to the store that you can’t do currently?

Kingsley Waring: Our current place is STUFFED. Our space is definitely a fantastic, cozy and inviting spot, but we definitely feel the walls closing in. We have records, CDs and cassettes everywhere. We stock all genres of music, but we have only been able to supply ample space for our rock, soul and hip-hop Sections. Our other sections (country, gospel, classical, reggae, and more) are all available, but depending on how many people are in the shop, this can definitely become a task to accommodate our space. We have records/CDs/tapes under tables, posters and merchandise in plastic bins. A newer place about double (or even triple our size) will definitely open up our collection to the record buying mass, but would also allow ample space for customers to shop and not feel like they have to play musical chairs just to check out a section. We would also love to have a dedicated space to take in, clean, price, and photograph all the exciting items our customers bring in and give to us. 

Having more space will not only allow us to spread our wings, but also would allow us to have way more in-store music performances. Since day one, we have prided ourselves on supporting the music of artists here in the Midlands. We would ultimately love to have a soundstage and floor space to be able to accommodate bands and artists of all sizes. 

With the new location, are you looking at keeping it in Lexington? What are your priorities for the space as far as where you want it located?

Yeah, Lexington is our home and we are definitely keeping it in town. We definitely need our new space in a well-traveled, well-maintained area. There are a few sweet spots located in Lexington that would serve us very well. We are not letting that cat out of the bag just yet. Ample parking is a must. Currently, we share parking with a slew of other businesses, and parking has definitely been an issue at times. Not to mention the lack of parking near and around the Icehouse Amphitheater. A dedicated parking lot for Turntable City customers is a great reason to expand. 

You’re keeping up the online sales. How big a part of the business happens online? What are you able to do with the online side of the operation that you can’t do within the store?

Online sales have been fantastic for us. We have had customers all across the U.S. and have even accommodated international orders as far as Japan, the U.K., South Africa and more. Especially since the pandemic, our online sales have remained consistent and have kept us afloat. Of course, face to face is always the best way to run a record store, but as Amazon continues to prove, people want what they want from the comfort of their homes, even if their home is 300 miles away, and we just want to make sure we keep a foot in that race.  

You’ve made it five years as a record store on Main Street in Lexington. How hard has that been to pull off? It doesn’t seem like it would be an automatically booming market for a local independent record shop.

It’s definitely been a blessing. I will say that Main Street in Lexington is definitely picking up. It has a long way to go. More parking, family restaurants and adult hangouts are definite musts in the near future to really make a difference. We definitely don’t need any more lawyer offices or mattress stores.  I truly hate that this move has to happen, but as we both know, business is business. I still get customers weekly coming in saying that they had no idea that we have been here. I’m definitely gonna miss that surprise on their faces as they walk in. 

Main Street needs a lot more flavor in terms of the shops that it supports, but we are thankful just to be here at the ground floor of that growth. In the heart of Lexington, on Main Street to be exact, a record store, not to mention a Black-owned record store existed. That’s one thing that can never be diminished, excluded or forgotten.

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