Providence Record Store Owners Talk Shop, Shutdown, and Songs for 2021

Owners of Armageddon Shop and Olympic Records chat about Phases, what’s on their turntables, and songs for a new era

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Uncertain times call for a need to think in fluid patterns; this holds true for most any business – including your friendly neighborhood record store. We caught up with Ben Barnett of Armageddon Shop on Broadway and Kevin Morosini at Wickenden’s Olympic Records, who offer outlooks on being in a perpetual state of creative-adaptive-pliability, what’s on their turntables, and gratitude for loyal patrons.

“Initially when things were a bit sketchier, I was doing a bit of curbside pickup. I still offer that option if people feel more comfortable with that,” Morosini begins. “Since reopening around Phase 3, business is going well. I keep the store very clean and it is generally not crowded so people are comfortable shopping here,” he says. “I’d also like to thank everyone who has come into the store since reopening for making me feel safe to be here by following all the guidelines and generally being very cool about everything.”

For Ben Barnett, who also has a shop in Cambridge, the shutdown in March called for a focus on online sales and curbside pickup that continues to this day with the addition of appointment-based shopping, which will continue as long as needed.

Parallel to a drastic decrease in a public, social lifestyle, there is a rise in time spent pursuing solo endeavors. In this category fits embracing or revisiting music and full discographies given the time available to stop and listen. Barnett points to a musical return to the familiar: “Personally I’d say now is a good time to revisit any record that helps lift your mood. I have been digging AC/DC and Creedence – that’s been getting-stuff-done music for me for the year so far.”

Morosini enumerates the interest in the artists we lost this year. “There has surely been a renewed interest in Van Halen since Eddie Van Halen’s recent passing,” he notes. “I’ve been revisiting discographies a lot lately myself; to list just a few, there’s Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, and The Police. One album to listen to all the way through is Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup.”

Both shops have continually stepped up to meet the challenge of these uncertain times with creativity, humor, and a desire to remain active in the community, open for the people, and places to find music. Both Barnett and Morosini are grateful to the people who have reached out to them and continue to support their businesses and are thankful to everyone who respects safety measures when visiting.

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