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Shockoe Bottom Gets a Used Record and Book Shop



Record stores will be stocked with exclusive releases, giveaways and other limited edition nerd bait for national Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21.

The city's newest vinyl shop, Small Friend Records and Books at 105 N. 17th St., just past the downtown farmers market, won't bother with special releases, but will be having a sale. It just opened a little more than a week ago and carries mostly used records and some new ones.

The store is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Zoe Golden, a Richmond native, and Jordan Pulaski. The two 20-somethings had been living in Asheville, North Carolina, for the past year, where Golden worked for the excellent Harvest Records, but they missed Richmond.

"We loved this space. I don't think there is anything like this (used record and book shop) in the East End," Golden says. "People in Church Hill and this area have said they're excited to have something close by."

Luckily for the couple, no physical changes were needed to the high-ceilinged, cozy split-level space, so the entire opening took only two months. "It felt like forever to us," Golden says. "But when we got our business license, the person told me it was the fastest she'd ever seen someone complete the process."

Right now they're focused on variety and obscure records. Golden says that her tastes include garage rock, soul and gospel, while her husband likes "screamy" punk and metal, and even Bob Dylan. You may have heard Golden's radio show, the Tuesday morning "Breakfast Blend" on WRIR for a couple years, as well as a longer-running show "We're a Happy Family" on WDCE at University of Richmond.

They do buy records for cash and trade. "We're still feeling out what's going to sell here," says Pulaski, who is more focused on the book side.

"I wanted to have a place where people could get lost," he says. "I tend to read more stuff in the radical tradition: the anarchist histories of Paul Avrich, Nanni Balestrini. I gravitate towards anything that pushes back. We try to have a lot of authors who aren't white men -- or who traditionally have been left out."

Golden adds that her husband is more nonfiction, while she's more fiction – "a lot of horror lately," she says.

They don't have a huge collection yet, and the records vary in price and condition, but there's good stuff. Flipping through the bins, I notice a Wendy Rene soul album and a rocker by the Oblivians. Golden says she worked with that band's singer and guitarist, Greg Cartwright, in Asheville and hopes to have him perform at Small Friend.

"We want to make this a community space and have events," Pulaski says.

Nearby construction is scheduled to be finished next month, Golden says, and they're hoping foot traffic will increase. "I don't feel like I'm in competition with other record stores," she adds. "We love those stores, we just wanted to do our own."

And where did they get the store's name? It's a nickname for their dog, a tiny 4-pound Yorkipoo named Peluga.

"The joke is she's our smallest friend, so. …" Golden says. "She's just a teeny dog with an enormous personality." And now she has her own cool T-shirt, too.


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