Bay Area Vinyl Hop：Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl
A San Franciscan Family Record Shop Legacy
If you lived in San Francisco sometime after the ‘90s, you have definitely seen this distinctive store on your right as you glided down Market Street from the Castro. A swirly spiraling sign that reads: “Grooves” with colorful transparent records, also spirally, gleaming in the large front windows. One would note to self, “I gotta check that place out one of these days…” And one must! The store is Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl, a legacy of music-loving San Franciscan parents, a father’s immense vinyl collection, and a daughter’s passion to continue their family store.
Sunny Andersen Chanel, the current owner and the daughter of founders Ray and Joan Andersen, proudly presents her record store. She was born and raised in San Francisco to parents that worked the “light show” at the Fillmore in the ‘60s, and later witnessed her father make his lifelong dream come true: finding the perfect spot in San Francisco to open his record shop. Let’s excavate together the inherited time capsule of vinyl treasures called Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl, or simply “Grooves.” Here is our interview with Sunny.
— What was your first encounter with music?
My parents were huge music fans and there was always music on in the house when I was growing up. They'd also take me to concerts whenever they could.
— Why vinyl?
I love the sound. It has a much deeper, richer sound than digital music or a CD. Plus holding a 12" record with the art, liner notes, and collectible value is particularly alluring.
— How did “Grooves” come to be?
The store is the outcome of my father's immense record collection which he spent decades compiling. He had a house and a couple of storage units filled with records with the dream of someday opening a record store. His wish came true in the early nineties when he found the perfect spot on Market Street. We have been at this original location since.
— And the name Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl?
My dad loved the idea of naming it Grooves, kind of like groovy, and which really illustrates that it's a vinyl record store. CDs don't have grooves!
— Tell us about the groovy store facade?
The design was my parents’. They were both artists—they used to do the psychedelic light shows in the 1960s at the Fillmore and worked with bands like Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead and many others. An old record label from the 1950s/60s that was called “Grooves” inspired them, and they used that as the base of the design. They then hired a local artist to paint the logo on the front of the store, and took their collection of colored vinyl records and put them all over the storefront. It turned out looking so cool and it has stayed that way for the last 20 plus years!
— It is a unique facade to say the least! Tell us more about your parents’ light shows.
My parents had a light show called The Holy See. Check out the Instagram account I started to showcase their show: https://www.instagram.com/holyseelightshow/. They did the psychedelic lights for all sorts of amazing artists. It was before I was born, but it sounded phenomenal. The artists loved what they were doing. Like Chuck Berry once just stood with his back to the audience playing because he was too busy looking at my father's light show!
— Their lights mesmerized Chuck Berry!
“I was taught at a very young age how to flip through records, to know what was collectible, and also to be able to tell the condition of a record.”
— What was it like growing up with a dad that collected so many records?
Records were EVERYWHERE in the house. The front room was full of records, the dining room was transformed into a record room, there were even boxes of records in the kitchen! No matter what, there was awesome music playing though, so I can't complain.
—Did you tag along with your father on his vinyl endeavors?
Every weekend we would go "sale-ing." When I would tell people that, they thought I meant "sailing in the bay," but it actually meant, "garage sale-ing." We would jump into my dad's massive Ford convertible and we'd go all over town searching for records. That was the primary way he amassed so many albums. We'd also go to flea markets and estate sales. I was taught at a very young age how to flip through records, to know what was collectible (like at around six they taught me how to ID a Beatles’ “Butcher” cover), and also to be able to tell the condition of a record.
— What makes Grooves stand out from other shops?
Grooves is an old-school record store. It was a mom and pop shop (run by parents) and it's still a mom and pop shop again (run by myself and my husband). You never know what you'll find here and we put new stuff out all the time. There's always a treasure to be found!
— Who is curating the store's music selection and what is your specialty?
Curating is a group effort! We all do! Grooves has something for everyone: rock, soul, jazz, classical, comedy, exotica, spoken word, vocals, soundtracks, shows, international, children's, the weird and the wonderful and everything in between!
— Any ups and downs along the way?
There was a time, in the early 2000s, when people weren't buying vinyl, they just wanted CDs. Thankfully, records have become popular again. Also, we're always going to our storage units to find the artists we sell out of at the shop. Thankfully we have a huge back stock to pull from!
— That leads us into my next question: how do you keep your store stocked?
We don't really need to source any since we have so much back stock, much of which we haven't gone through yet. There are hundreds and hundreds of boxes of records that we still haven't gone through! Once we do, our customers will be VERY happy! There's some amazing stuff that hasn't hit the shop yet.
— Can you describe the magnitude of this “back stock?”
I can't gauge how many records we still need to go through, but it's in the thousands and thousands. Hundreds and hundreds of boxes! We are — soon — going to have a TON of 45s - we have thousands! They are from all genres and years. Tons of soul, ‘60s ‘70s rock and lots of ‘80s hits. There's really some AMAZING stuff. For now, before we get it set up at the store, we’ve started selling some on Discogs: https://www.discogs.com/seller/GroovesVinyl/profile
— Who are your clientele?
People come from all over the world to visit Grooves. We get people from all over California, the United States, France, England, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, really all over! We also have a whole lot of regulars who come in all the time. Also, we always seem to get celebrities coming in — they like to hit the place while they’re on tour. Recently, we’ve gotten a lot more young people since vinyl is cool again.
— So when did you start running the store?
My father passed away in late 2017. It was always his intention that I would inherit the store and continue to run it. Since it opened, he would have me involved with the shop and would have me work there every Saturday which I did until my daughter was born in 2006.
My daughter is ALSO now a record collector! Third generation! This is her holding the vinyl for the band Calpurnia. She went and got it signed by the band. She loves them!
— Father to daughter to daughter… long live the legacy of Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl!
<Sunny’s Record Picks!>
■ The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators by The 13th Floor Elevators
This was my parents’ favorite band. They saw them every time they came to San Francisco and played their records ALL the time. This is a must for fans of psychedelic rock and should be in every collection!
■ Roxy Music by Roxy Music
This was another band that my parents adored. All of Roxy Music's early records are amazing but this one is especially great with songs like Re-make/Re-model, Lady Tron, and The Bob (Medley). Again, this is a record that should be in EVERYONE'S collection!
■ O Bidú: Silêncio No Brooklin by Jorge Ben
We love international sounds at Grooves, and Jorge Ben is particularly awesome. He is a Brazilian treasure and wrote such beautiful and soothing songs. My folks loved Jorge Ben and I fell in love with his music while playing the records while working at Grooves.
Stay tuned for more Bay Area record shop interviews!
Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl
1797 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
(b/t Octavia St & Mccoppin St, Mission)
Hours: 12pm - 7pm everyday
Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/groovesvinyl/?hl=en
Interview and article by Mika Anami
Photographs by Rieko Fujii