There is a bulldog inside Pink Elephant Records on this early Friday evening, and owner Danielle Frazier isn't batting an eye. She flashes a smile and states that her store is canine-friendly, then continues to help the dog's owner find the soundtrack he's looking for.
You can feel Frazier's love of music and humans throughout the pink walls of the vinyl and vintage shop, which celebrated a year in business in October. The Clash and New York Dolls are playing on the speakers. A Siouxsie and the Banshees poster hangs on the wall. If you didn't know her before you walked into the store, you're going to be best friends with the businesswoman when you leave.
"If you're a young person who's curious and wants to get into collecting, some record stores can be intimidating," she says. "I don't want to be that way. I want to be your first record store."
Frazier tries to keep a good balance of new and used records in the store, along with vintage T-shirts and other memorabilia. She's gone out of her way to build a community and create a safe space for music lovers and the LGTBQ community that's free of intimidation and judgment. If you're looking for a Bill Cosby album, you won't find it at Pink Elephant Records. The same goes for R. Kelly or Chris Brown.
Despite winning the title of Best New Record Store in this year's Phoenix New Times' Best of Phoenix, Pink Elephant Records, located near Green New American Vegetarian at 2240 North Scottsdale Road in Tempe, is in danger of closing. The summer months were slower than Frazer had anticipated, which made it difficult for her to keep her stock fresh.
"All of the cash was going into bills and not stock," she explains. "By the time students started returning, I was so low on stock and still struggling to keep up on our expenses. I pick up vintage when I can, but the new stuff people want I haven't been able to get."
To make matters worse, the shopping plaza where the store was officially sold last month. The previous landlords were willing to work with Frazier when things got behind. The present owners haven't been so understanding. If they aren't able to pay what they owe by Monday, December 9, the store might have to shut its doors.
To keep the lights on, Frazier has set up a GoFundMe page to help keep Pink Elephant Records and the community around it alive. Her initial goal is to raise $3,000 to pay overdue rent. If she can raise $20,000, she'll be able to pay off other debts and fill the shelves with fresh stock. She says it's difficult for her to ask, but she has to try.
Behind Frazier is a quote by author Nick Hornby: "Record stores can't save your life, but they can give you a better one." She committed to making that happen. Here's hoping that she'll get the chance.
Update: Per a post on Facebook, Pink Elephant Records is unfortunately closing, but the good news is it isn't going away. Frazier and her husband, Jarrod Barger, outline their next moves below.
Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to our GFM and spread the campaign to help save Pink Elephant Records! We are forever grateful to your kindness and support!
Unfortunately, we did not meet our immediate goal of $3,000 in the time we needed. We did speak with our landlord and they did offer to consider a proposal that would give us a little more time to pay the amount. However, they were concerned that we would be in the same position by next month.
We did have a good weekend of sales thanks to the campaign as well as an awesome piece by Jason Keil at Phoenix New Times and a further boost when local giant Zia Record Exchange retweeted and shared the article on their Facebook page. But unfortunately, after several long conversations with my husband/business partner, we had to admit we agreed with our landlord's concerns.
After considering our financial situations, both the business and personally, as well as acknowledging the toll the stress has taken on our health and our marriage, we have decided with incredibly heavy hearts to close Pink Elephant Records.
The good news is that we're not going to disappear! I am going to be moving the inventory to Discogs.com in the coming days/weeks.
I still believe in our mission to create a more inclusive community and I'm considering a couple ideas of how we can take what we've learned & the connections we've made and roll that into something that will further that mission without bearing the burden of being my sole source of income.
We will be using some of the funds that have been raised to do this, including at least one podcast. We will also be using the funds to pay off some pressing business debts.
We're obviously not expecting any additional donations but certainly welcome them, so I plan to leave the campaign up for a few days just in case.
We appreciate every single donation that has been made and every single time someone has shared this campaign. We truly love each and every one of you with all our hearts!
I am incredibly sad & disappointed to end my dream, & even more so to disappoint the people who believed in it. But I know in my heart it is the right thing to do at this time.
As much as it hurts, I am grateful for all that I've learned, all the people I've met, all the new friends I've made, and all the new music I have discovered.
A year ago, I would have thought this situation would have ruined my passion for records but I am more excited about them than I have been in years. I am also more excited about this community and getting more involved as just a collector.
The store will be open for business the next few days as we get things packed up and some fixtures sold, so I hope those of you that are local will stop by.
I love you and will be forever grateful for your support and your belief in me. Thank you.
- Danielle & Jarrod