As a student-centric strip of pavement, it seems only fitting that there should be a plethora of pizza shops, watering holes and record stores on Thayer. While there are indeed a variety of spots to fill your pie hole and whet your whistle, the selection of vinyl has been sorely and noticeably lacking as of late. How can any respectable college student eat a slice of pepperoni without the accompaniment of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? And clearly, a PBR cannot be rightly consumed within the absence of turntable sound.
Chris Daltry, owner of What Cheer Antiques and singer/guitarist for the ‘Mericans, knows vinyl. In fact, he’s the force behind the wildly popular Providence Rock and Roll Yard Sale, which has taken place in locations including Hope Artiste Village, Grant’s Block and Luongo Square. Chris remembers a time when Thayer Street was host to several record stores. “Back in the day, there were probably five places to buy records,” he says. Lately, there’s been nothing.
Until now, that is. Chris and his wife Jennifer have recently moved their popular antiques and record store from a cramped basement in Wayland Square to an airy, sun-filled space on College Hill. It’s located upstairs at the corner of Thayer and Angell, easy to find via sidewalk signage. As I entered the new L-shaped store, I spotted Jen behind the register and Chris – decked in a hip suit – chatting with a fellow musician who had come in to purchase some records. I was immediately impressed by how tidy the store was. “Moving here really forced us to get organized,” Jen says, “It really re-energized us too.”
What Cheer has been restructured so that its large record selection is in the forefront of the business. Albums are easy to peruse, and organized by genre. “We love to promote local bands too,” Chris says, “and hope to get a listening station put in soon so people can come in and discover new favorites.” Jen adds that it’s exciting to meet a whole new customer base now that they’re more accessible to those who work, visit and live at Brown.
A variety of antiques and collectibles are still available, meticulously grouped together by type. Drawers upon neatly-labeled drawers hold everything from black and white photos to doll parts; apothecary cabinets house military memorabilia, play money and religious trinkets, from rosary beads to prayer books. The store stocks a wide array of vintage jewelry, clothing, shoes and hats as well.
Chris and Jen often go on rogue buying trips at which they can fill up a whole van in one outing. Luckily, they fill it with treasures, not junk. Pop in and say hi – they’re some of the friendliest shop owners in town.