In these days of streaming on Spotify and YouTube videos, where music is available through a computer or a phone, Zac Younkins is a throwback in that he wants his music to come from something he can hold: a piece of vinyl, a CD or a cassette.
“With physical music, you really connect more with the music when you’re listening to it,” Younkins said. “When you put on that vinyl and you set the needle onto the record, you hear it hit the grooves, you hear the music start, you have more of a connection to that. You’re more actively listening to the music than when you just click a playlist on a website and you let it play.”
Younkins, who recently opened Fat Hippy Records in Brookfield, also wants to look at the artwork and read the liner notes.
“It’s just a very visceral experience with the art, the music and everything together,” said the 2010 Brookfield High grad.
Younkins buys and sells new and used vinyl LPs and 45s, CDs and cassettes at Fat Hippy, 7196 Warren Sharon Road. He carries rock, metal, punk, country, hip hop, jazz, singer-songwriters, comedy, funk and soul. He will have things you’re familiar with, but is also trying to get you to try bands and artists you have never heard of.
“I’m stocking a lot of, especially, hip hop, underground, independent artists who sell only on their web sites and Bandcamp,” Younkins said. “There’s not really a lot of record stores around here where people are trying to introduce the consumers to new music, and so that’s one of my big focuses. I want people to shop around and try something out that they’ve never heard before, just based on the album cover or the other musicians, i.e. the liner notes.”
Being exposed to new music can lead in unexpected directions, he said. The Brookfield resident related that he had recently received a Twitter message from a follower in Slovenia. He had recommended the follower listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Deja Vu.” When the follower mentioned to his stepdad what he had done, the stepdad noted that he had gone through four or five copies of the album in his lifetime.
“He said he now has a huge new area of interests to connect with his stepdad over,” Younkins said. “It’s stories like that that made me love being a DJ and inspired me to open a record store.”
Younkins is a life-long music fan, and was introduced to collecting and selling albums by his grandfather, Paul Galano, who sold them at flea markets and antique malls.
While studying film and music production at Kent State University, Younkins had a radio show. “I really loved playing music for people and talking about music,” he said.
He started collecting music and posting online reviews.
“I realized I enjoyed doing the radio so much and I had this collection of vinyl — and I was starting to accumulate so many that I was selling them online — and I said, ‘I gotta get a store in Brookfield.’”
Younkins said he probably could have more easily opened his store in Pittsburgh, especially toward his goal of promoting new music, but he wanted to do something in his hometown.
“I think it’s time we had some music in Brookfield,” Younkins said. “We got Brookfield Nutrition over here. I’m trying to make this a nice little hip spot. This could be a great first step to making this a cool little plaza.
“When I was in high school, I would have loved to come here and just talk to my friends while I’m looking through some records. Me and some friends come over and then we maybe get a smoothie at Brookfield Nutrition and look through some records.”
Fat Hippy Records is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.