Mole’s Record Exchange is located at 111 Calhoun Street in Clifton. They opened their doors in 1974 and are celebrating their 43rd Anniversary this year!
We had the chance to shat with Dean Newman, owner of Cincinnati’s longest operating record store, Mole’s Record Exchange!
Tell us about the inception of Mole’s…
Well, for one we are OLD and proud of it. Mole’s opened in June of 1974 on short Vine next to The Cupboard. Great combo. Headshop to the left, used record store to the right. We are the oldest in the city. Back in the day, used record stores were usually located near a college campus. At the beginning of the year, new kids, new sales. Then as the semester was rearing towards the end, they would sell back to get beer money. And the recycle was continuous. This has changed with the internet, but that is how it started out.
What does music mean to the staff at Mole’s?
Well, everything. We both have a well-rounded variety in music. Things I like may be different from the others and vice versa. So, everything is covered. The one thing we pride ourselves on is that we don’t try to be hip, just real! We are all old enough to have gone through a shit ton of trends over the years. Punk in the 70’s, Hair Metal in the 80’s, Alternative, Grunge, the list goes on and on. But one thing that really moves me is when I’m playing something and a customer asks who it is, then buys it.
How do you select your staff?
In 43 years, there has only been seven full time employees behind the counter. Being primarily a used store, it takes a very knowledgeable person that knows a lot about ALL music. Every employee was a steady customer before being hired.
What has been the most memorable Record Store Day for you thus far?
They have all been good. But I would have to say that the second or third, when vinyl was starting to pick back up. I had multiple Moms and Dads in with their kids buying LP’s. They all had stories about shopping back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s – in their youth and now buying some of the same LP’s with their kids. We also had a band playing outside on the street and a big party.
How does it feel to live in an area with so many great independent record stores? Is there any competition or camaraderie?
This is a loaded question. Being an owner, there is both. But being a customer, it has to be great.
What Record Store Day events are planned for this year?
Being a smaller store, we can’t have bands play. But we usually have a cookout (weather permitting). It’s all fun. We open at 9a for Record Store Day.
Cincinnati is one of the lucky cities to have a plethora of independently owned record stores. Within the month of April we will be highlighting these stores. Stay tuned for more!