It's been 16 years since Raven Records closed, and it's a gigantic understatement to say that the retail side of the music business has changed since then, and not in the favor of the retailers.
So it's the perfect time to open a record store, right? That's what Jay Nations thinks. Nations, the owner of Raven Records during its storied run on Cumberland Avenue, where it served as unofficial headquarters for Knoxville's music scene, is reviving the store in Bearden in January. The new store, at 5710 Kingston Pike, across from Bearden Elementary School, will be called Raven Records and Rarities; Nations will share the 1,500-square-foot space with business partner Jack Stiles, who will sell movie memorabilia, toys, and pop-culture collectibles.
"Vinyl's gotten hotter in the last few years," Nations says, explaining that the new Raven will focus exclusively on used vinyl, at least at the beginning.
For the last decade, Nations has worked as an independent record dealer, buying and selling tons of vinyl at collector's shows around the country. (For a few years after Raven closed, he worked as a sales rep at Metro Pulse.) Locally, he's sold many of his records through a handful of consignment shops. He's combining the stock from three of those outlets—Nostalgia in Bearden, South Knox Collectibles, and the Book Eddy—into the new Raven store. The upcoming move of the Book Eddy from Chapman Highway to the old Corner Lounge space on North Central Street, in fact, convinced Nations to make the move.
"When I lost the Book Eddy, I decided to just combine three of those into my own store," he says. "I'll have fresh stock and I'll keep it better organized than I've had time to do with my consignment locations."
Nations says a soft opening sometime in January will be followed by a grand-opening celebration later in the year.
Raven Records and Rarities will join Lost and Found Records in North Knoxville, the Old City's Hot Horse , and Disc Exchange on Chapman Highway as the city's principal vinyl sellers.