A few months ago, Katie Scott was standing outside her shop, The Groovy Coop in Downtown McKinney, when she came across the owner of another building on the square. His tenant, he told her, would soon be moving out. It was a long-standing salsa shop, “a staple,” Scott says, that was forced to shut down when the pandemic deemed salsa inessential.
“Well, if he decides to move out, I would love to look at the building; I think it'd be a great record store,” Scott told him. “And then, two weeks later, I have the paper signed. So that's how quickly that moved.”
It wasn’t ideal timing, but Scott fulfilled her long-held fantasy by opening a record store, which she named Red Zeppelin.
“My dream was to always have an independent record store,” Scott says. “I was just kind of waiting for the right location and time … and who would have thought it would be in the middle of a pandemic?
“But, that's the way that it kind of came into my life. Sometimes you just have to take things as they are presented to you.”
An old-timey haven, downtown McKinney has had its share of vintage shops, diners, fancy candy shops and even a magic store throughout the years. But the record shop makes a novel addition to the city, and it’s female-owned and female-run — by manager Bayleigh Cheek, one of Dallas’ most promising singer-songwriters, or as Scott calls her, "my indie-rock girl."
Using “female” as a qualifier when describing someone’s professional achievements is a recurring feminist point of debate. “Female doctor,” when reversed to its counterpart “male doctor,” shows the absurdity of pointing out someone’s gender in irrelevant business-speak. But in North Texas in particular, a female-owned record shop is a rarity.
“I tried to research it, but I think we're one of maybe two, maybe three, female-owned record stores in Texas,” Scott says. “So we're really proud of that. Yeah, it's a man's world for sure.”
In addition to Cheek, Red Zeppelin has one part-time employee, who is male.
“And we won't hold that against him,” Scott says jokingly.
That employee is Declan James, an electronic artist who has opened for the likes of Steve Aoki.
“He's actually a pretty big up-and-comer in the EDM world,” Scott says proudly. “So, you know, we try to hire people that are really into music and really knowledgeable.”
A mother of four and former Allen ISD teacher, Scott left teaching and opened her first store in McKinney around five years ago. The Groovy Coop, a vintage store/gift shop full of curiosities, is around the corner from Red Zeppelin, also on the square.
“I’m an entrepreneur by heart,” Scott says. “I graduated from [University of North Texas] with a degree in counseling, and I taught at Allen ISD for a while, and I just got burned out on teaching ... I always dreamed of having my own businesses. And I just took the leap one day and it's just kind of worked out.”
Customers occasionally bought records at The Groovy Coop, and Scott felt confident that a stand-alone shop would thrive. She may have always wanted to open a record store, but Red Zeppelin was an entirely spontaneous enterprise; Scott didn't expect to be taking her chances in the middle of a global health and economic crisis.
“I had not been planning this for a while,” she says of the opening. “I mean, it was always on the back burner in my mind, but definitely not during the pandemic. ... I wasn't actively looking for a spot, but when I found out that spot might be available, I had to jump on it because it's on one of the busiest streets in downtown McKinney, and it's the perfect size.”
After reopening her gift shop in May and first seeing the building, only a month and a half later Scott opened Red Zeppelin's doors. The shop, at 206 E. Louisiana St., is a small, punk-influenced spot for vintage and reissued vinyl.
Her vision included a large mural on the store’s back wall, which she commissioned from singer and artist Claire Morales. She also envisioned the store's ambiance as having “a definite vibe.”
“We’re going for kind of a late '70s and mid-'90s, punk-grunge vibe,” Scott says.
The place is filled with vintage posters and newer ones for sale.
“It's supposed to look like you're going into a kind of a New York City grungy record store or not that you're, like, in the middle of North Texas,” Scott says.
Scott says she focuses the selection on genres like reggae, punk and metal: “Things that aren’t necessarily what your average record store would have.”
Especially in the pandemic era, vinyl collectors can easily do their crate-digging virtually, but Scott says browsing online just doesn’t offer the same experience as an in-the-flesh sound emporium like an indie record store.
“I think a record store is an experience you go in for the ambiance,” she says, making the case that browsing for records at a brick-and-mortar shop versus online is like the difference between going to a library and purchasing a book online.
”It’s just a good, chill environment,” she says of the space. “You also will find things that you didn't know you were looking for, so I think that's also part of the experience. It’s kind of like treasure hunting.”
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Despite taking COVID precautions, the store’s opening day had a large turnout. They only teased the opening on their Instagram page before the store’s sign announced its presence.
The store also offers vinyl by local artists. Scott says her best-selling locals are Joshua Ray Walker, Ottoman Turks, Motorcade and Doug Burr.
Just like at The Groovy Coop, Scott plans to have solo or duo acoustic performances at Red Zeppelin — as soon as the "quarantine thing" is over, she says.