Long before he opened RamaLama Records, Rob Kimple was selling records out of his closet.
That started because he couldn’t find the music he was interested in buying. He couldn’t be the only one, right?
“I just noticed there was an opening in the market and it just kind of worked out in such a way that a bunch of Sam Goodys went out of business,” said Kimple, who operates the store at 3151 W. Central Ave. “So I bought their stock and opened this up.”
That was 10 years ago.
To celebrate the milestone, RamaLama Records is putting on an anniversary show with national-touring act The Men on Saturday at Frankie’s Inner-City, 308 Main St.
“When we first opened up, everybody asked me what direction we were going to go in,” Kimple said. “I had a general idea I was going to offer up what I enjoyed myself, but beyond that, whatever people demand is what we stock. You’ve got to keep your ear to the ground, and kind of hope you get it right.”
It’s that kind of philosophy that helped land a rising rock band whose latest album is titled Tomorrow’s Hits, an eight-song record with a raw, stripped-down sound getting quite a bit of buzz from publications like Pitchfork.
“I wanted to set up an anniversary party and my former [business] partner Broc [Curry] came through with a wonderful band in The Men,” Kimple said. “So, really, that was more his doing than mine. I asked and he delivered.”
The music industry is ever-changing — remastered CDs, MP3s, iTunes, Amazon, and the resurgence of vinyl — and it’s something that Kimple and associate Nick Mikolajczyk have strived to stay ahead of the curve. At RamaLama, you can find classic rock standards Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, U2, Rush, Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, and Beatles, but also the Drive-by Truckers, Afghan Whigs, Front Bottoms, and Neko Case, Canadian import City and Colour, European death metal, old-school rap, jazz, and even chart toppers Carrie Underwood and Adele. And if RamaLama doesn‘t have it, Kimple and Mikolajczyk can make sure it arrives in the next shipment.
“It’s always a learning process and you’ve got to stay dynamic,” Kimple said. “Every day I’m trying to offer a better store. Everything evolves and we have to too. We used to sell more CDs, even though we’ve always sold LPs. But now, the LPs have surpassed the CD sales. It’s neat now to see [because] we used to offer turntables and they sat, and now we sell them on a pretty consistent basis.”
Actually, a celebration concert will be a fitting tribute for RamaLama, which has hosted dozens of in-store shows over the years and given Toledo music fans a chance to catch up-and-coming artists and travel-logged rock bands for free.
"It’s really neat to offer shows from bands from all over the world and then do it for free,” Kimple said. “We never charge a door cover, but we do encourage the band to ask for a donation, and people always offer up more than enough for any expenses that the band may incur.”
In fact, it’s an in-store show that has a special place in the the store owner’s memory. A death metal “national touring act was on the road and they picked up a show here and a couple of hours before their arrival a lady ran into the power pole and knocked out the power for the entire [West Cricket] plaza,” Kimple said. “So there was a couple hundred kids here and no power. We went and rented a generator and we just ran two lead lights up the steps and had the show go on.” All in the name of rock and roll.
After working in the local music industry the past 10 years on his own terms, Kimple couldn’t be happier with how things have played out.
“Every day stands out when you make a living selling records,” he said. “It’s a wonderful situation because the people who come in here want to be here and they generally are as pleasant and engaging as people can be.
”We live in a world where you can get every piece of music for free and people still choose to buy the stuff. So, that tells me I’m here to stay.”
Tickets for the all-ages show for The Men are available in advance for $10 from ticketmaster.com. There are some free tickets available at RamaLama Records, but for anyone who misses out, tickets are $12 at the door for the Saturday concert at Frankie’s Inner-City, 308 Main St. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Contact Bob Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6506.