With Record Store Day fast approaching, it's probably a good time to highlight a local house of wax that could use some saving. This month, Dr. Freecloud's Record Shoppe–one of the last OC dens of avant garde electronica–is hosting a pledge drive to help keep their doors open. The Fountain Valley store ripped a page from the public radio playbook and started an Indiegogo pledge drive on March 1 to help raise money for inventory, cover bills and enough rent to stay afloat for a couple months. So far, the drive–which ends on April 15–has garnered the business a little over $,4000 of its $14,500 goal. With less than two weeks to go, time is undoubtedly of the essence.
The struggle to say open in the face of shrinking vinyl profits and customer loyalty sounds all too familiar in the world of mom and pop record shops (er, shoppes). But owners Ron Dedmon (aka Ron D Core) and his wife Helen Liang see the store's financial battles as a fight to save one of last sources of EDM vinyl in OC.
"Seeing that some of our colleagues stores have closed, our store is even more unique now because there's no one really selling electronic music and beyond to the extent we do", Dedmon says.
When it first opened in 1994, Dr. Freeclouds (also known as the Mixing Lab) was first record store in Orange County to stock, sell all styles of electronic dance music and we provided the proper place to fulfill our customers needs. Over time, it turned many first time vinyl buyers into regular customers, collectors and DJ's alike. Anyone who's thumbed through the shop's stacks of records surrounded by eye-popping graffiti art, giant paintings and cartoon characters can attest to the distinctness of what Dr. Freeclouds has to offer every time you walk in.
Right now, the store's Indigogo campaign is offering a wide variety of pledge prizes for those who give, some of which include custom vinyl mixes (delivered in digital form) from Ron D Core himself. Having spent decades in the electronic scene as a hardcore DJ, the man once called himself "the West Coast Hardcore Pervert" is more than willing to create some danceable aural chaos that speaks directly to you. Click here to get a load of all the other items you can walk away with when you pledge.
Of course the Dr Freeclouds campaign also brings up a wider question of survival for indie/niche businesses, and perhaps media businesses. "Is the only path for survival through pledge drives, or being supported by a foundation, or even gasp, the public sector?" he asks.
In addition to the pledge drive, the store is also making sure you have some opportunities to come in and physically show your support in the coming weeks.
On April 14, local label Bell Ringer Records is hosting it's third anniversary party at the shop, featuring a full line up of DJs, BBQ and music geekery from 12-6 p.m. Donations will be accepted and will go toward helping the store. They're also hosting their Record Store Day sale on April 20 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., featuring over 100 new titles for this day covering rock, indie, metal, punk, drum-n-bass, IDM, funk, soul, psyche rock, dubstep, hip-hop, turntablism and ton of other stuff you cant find anywhere else.
For now, Dedmon is just focused on keeping the pledges rolling in and keeping Dr. Freeclouds as healthy as he can.
"At this point we really feel we need to keep going," Dedmon says. "I'm super passionate about vinyl, playing music as a DJ as well. And a lot of our customers are our friends…there's just too much at stake for us to bail out. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I bailed out."
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.