In the age of pop-up businesses, almost any concept can turn an underused retail storefront into a restaurant, department store or gaming center, as River City Company recently proved in helping create the new shops at CitiPark on Chestnut Street. But can a detached home extension off Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank become a pop-up hipster haven for discriminating music collectors?
A trio of siblings think so, and while Mayfield’s All Killer No Filler Records, Books & Tapes may not have been born of the pop-up concept, co-owner Amy Mayfield says the store has a similar feel.
“We own the building and were uneasy about renting it out,” Mayfield says of the detached, two-story apartment/garage fronting Laurel Drive just off Dayton Boulevard. “We’re all lifelong music fans, so we thought we’d open our own business. If it doesn’t work, we can close up shop and move it, but what’s more fun than owning your own record store?”
Mayfield said the store is both a labor of love and a working model as she pursues her degree at the UTC School of Business. Her partners in the venture—sister Liz, a nursing student, and brother Josh, the hardcore music maven who commandeers the front desk in the small shop—have branded themselves as an outpost of mostly new, often obscure and hard-to-find music available on vinyl—and cassettes—featuring a mix of local, regional and national bands and artists. The store also stocks graphic novels, zines, T-shirts and novelty items.
“We wanted to see if Chattanooga is really lame or would embrace a true independent music store,” Josh Mayfield proclaimed. A musician himself, Mayfield clearly occupies the Jack Black role in this local version of Championship Vinyl, the fictional record store featured in the 1999 movie “High Fidelity,” based on Nick Hornby’s novel.
Since opening on Black Friday, Amy Mayfield said the business has done “about 80 percent better than I expected,” and is already attracting a steady stream of customers who find their way into the small room mostly by way of the store’s Facebook page. “We’re spending all our money on inventory, so we haven’t invested in advertising yet,” Mayfield said.
Asked whether their shop is an becon of cool along Red Bank’s drab and somewhat blighted Dayton Boulevard, Josh Mayfield said (with a wink and a nod) that Red Bank has always been cool. “Everyone knows the cool crowd shops for groceries at the Dollar Store,” he said with a snarky laugh.
Set apart from Chattanooga’s other independent record stores—Chad’s, downtown on Vine Street, and For The Record in Northgate Mall—Mayfield’s occupies a third point in what is now a triad of independent music store around the city.
“We’re fans of Chad’s and For The Record,” Josh Mayfield said, “but we’re trying to do something different with our offerings,” hence the “All Killer, No Filler” tag.
True to his claim, Mayfield’s does indeed stock a small but growing inventory of music by local bands and artisits such as the Future Virgins, Anna Banana and Aren’t They Queer?, as well as underground icons like Roky Ericskon in their bins. Because the albums are often rare or hard to find, prices are higher (the Erickson album sold for $50), so Mayfield’s profit margins are also higher.
But the store is less a business than a labor of love. On the day I visit, I meet Peter Stubb, an underground music legend himself and, like the Mayfields, a Dalton, Ga., native. The store stocks many of Stubb’s albums, almost all of which are issued on handmade cassette tapes. Stubb’s latest, “Cassette Legend,” pays homage to his fascination with cassettes, which he said he has used since the late 1980s.
Stubb’s presence amounts to the first in-store artist appearance at Mayfield’s, but not the last. The shop will host its End of the World Party from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, Dec. 21, featuring live performances by Stubb, Anna Banana, Brian Hensley and others as well as discounted prices.
Mayfield’s All Killer No Filler is located at 2841 Dayton Blvd. (behind an insurance business facing Laurel Drive). The store is open from 1 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (423) 486-1379 or visit their Facebook page or website at mayfieldsallkiller.com.