Mark Capon, co-owner of Harvest Records on Haywood Road in West Asheville, says his shop has been closed to the public since March 17. Despite being allowed to reopen at a limited capacity, he plans to wait to ensure the safety of his staff and the community at large.
But while the storefront remains shuttered, the business has started offering curbside pickup, mail orders and the occasional local delivery as Capon tries to reimagine the usual record store experience through a virtual platform. Instead of customers leisurely thumbing through hundreds of vintage and new vinyls — which includes about 10,000 pieces of vinyl among its 15,000-item inventory — Capon says he’s using the store’s social media accounts to present glimpses of its collection and highlight noteworthy offerings.
“It’s a physical store with physical media that people like to come in and comb through, so you kind of have to rewire your brain to get people to feel like they’re still combing through the records,” he says.
Capon also says he plans to use the store’s online platform to uplift Black musicians, artists and labels. On June 11, the store held an online sale of records representing some of his staff’s favorite Black recording artists. All of the proceeds from the albums, which sold out in less than 24 hours, were donated to Asheville’s Racial Justice Coalition. He says he plans to continue to highlight and support Black artists through the record store and, just as importantly, to listen to Black leaders as communities around the world continue to face systemic racial injustice.
“The world is feeling very different, and it’s important to us that we keep progressing and making the right decisions and listening,” Capon says. “None of the music in here exists without the ingenuity of Black artists, and we stand by that. We’re proud of the diversity of the music that we have in our store and we’re going to continue to make it a priority to keep that diversity upheld.”
This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.