Konstadinos "Cocoe" Tsimahidis is a man with a mission. The record aficionado opened up Grand Avenue Records on December 10, and he will not stop until every Phoenician has at least a small collection of killer vinyl.
Well, that might be a bit of a reach, but honestly, Tsimahidis has the energy and the drive to accomplish it.
A husband (to wife Anzela, who is a mover and shaker in the Phoenix arts community herself) and father of a 6-month-old daughter, Tsimahidis moved to Phoenix a little over five years ago after building a career in record stores devoted to the DJ culture, as well as working as a DJ himself. Tsimahidis worked at Huntington Beach, California's Higher Source, where you could stare at a 450-gallon fish tank while listening to records at one of the multiple listening stations set up around the tank.
While Grand Avenue Records, located at 1504 Grand Avenue (right next to Bikini Lounge), does not have a huge fish tank to look at, or even a ton of records, it does have class and style. The shop, which has also been Jackalope Trading Post and Mods and Rockers in recent years, is poised to become a big part of the Phoenix music scene thanks to the continual expansion of (non-ironic) hip Phoenix culture. Let's all face it, our sleepy, more town than city, vibe is changing, and much of this change is directly related to people like Cocoe Tsimahidis.
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"I think there is a really great record community here. There is a lot of good record stores. I'm just filling a void so that me and my friends can come here and talk about records and just hang out. There's not a lot of records in here, but every record counts. Phoenix is up and coming as far as music goes, and I just want to be part of that," Tsimahidis says.
Cocoe Tsimahidis is no stranger to working around records. He started working in record stores in 1988 and worked at Beat Non-Stop on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in the early 1990s, working with notable turntablists Doc Martin, Steve Flores, and Tony Stewart. For many of these years, Tsimahidis lived in Orange County.
"It was pretty much a dream. For anyone who walked in, their jaw pretty much dropped. Especially if they were from a different country," Tsimahidis says.
About his new record store venture, Tsimahidis is quick to point out he is not looking to cash in. In some ways, Grand Avenue Records really serves as his office and warehouse for his business, the Merch Pro, which, for now, is what pays the bills. After burning out a bit on the record store business and touring as a DJ, Tsimahidis decided to move to Phoenix and see where life would take him next. This move led to beginning the Merch Pro as a one-stop shop for any need a record label or store might need when it comes to promotional material.
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With pride, Tsimahidis talks about not having to make one cold call for his services yet, and has built a steadily growing business based on the key principle he learned in his experience over the years of working for others: exceptional customer service.
"People come to the music store to get educated and to educate. To be part of the vinyl community. At the end of the day, people don't necessarily count on you for your knowledge, but it's a soothing factor when they can come in and leave with a tune they wouldn't normally have looked for. It's a romance and it is really important for establishments like [Grand Avenue Records] to have the right people working in them," says Tsimahidis.
As a DJ, Tsimahidis began coming out to Phoenix and doing gigs in the mid-'90s, including multiple collaborations with the long-running hip-hop night the Blunt Club, which now happens at Valley Bar. Tsimahidis also hosts a monthly party at Valley Bar called Loose Joints, which will take place next on February 24, and continues to enjoy spinning records. As he talks about his current projects, it is very clear he is just happy to be doing his thing in a city that is supporting him.
"I'm in love with the city; it's done cool things in my life," Tsimahidis says.