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TRX: The Timeline

From one store, to three, to one



Michael Bunnell opens the store with short-term business partner Al Benton. Bunnell's capital comes from money he received from a logging accident (he fell 30 feet from a lead line and crushed his leg). The tiny, 400-square-foot space is located at 426 Orchard St. The inventory for the store comes from Bunnell's personal collection.


The Record Exchange moves to its current location on Idaho Street. The space, which was previously the office for Idaho Heritage Magazine, was very tiny—occupying only a fraction of the Hitchcock building.


The Edge (now called The Record Exchange Gifts) coffee and gift shop opens. The Edge coffee shop was at one time decorated with red French bistro-style tables juxtaposed with a black and white checkerboard floor. Today, the floor remains, but the tables have been replaced with green booths that came from a now-defunct Mexican restaurant. The Edge eventually becomes the first place in Boise to serve espresso drinks.


Kathleen O'Brien becomes a partner in the store. "I first started working there part-time, basically because the guys wanted a day off," said O'Brien. Bunnell and O'Brien then open a poster store next to The Record Exchange called Posters, Etc. Eventually, they realized it made more sense to join forces. She would remain a partner until 1996.


The Hitchcock Building mural is designed and painted by Fred Choate. The mural was inspired by the building's name and the period in which it was built. The mural consists of a market scene from the mid-1900s, with a stogie-smoking Alfred Hitchcock as the centerpiece.


Bunnell buys Budget Tapes & Records on Broadway, eventually turning it into another Record Exchange. "I had to buy my closest competitor, and I did it," said Bunnell. Of all of the secondary stores that have existed, folks often cite the Broadway store as their favorite. The store eventually moves across the street from its original East Broadway location. To complete the move, store employees use "borrowed" Albertson's shopping carts that they fill with records and run across the four-lane road.


The downtown store is remodeled and expanded. As shop spaces around the original store became available, Bunnell incorporates them into The Record Exchange. A series of expansions and remodels would follow.


Downtown store is remodeled and expanded again.


The Record Exchange publishes a monthly magazine called Discrespect. Its publication is overseen by employee Will Spearman, with store employees writing monthly columns. The magazine begins as a simple eight-page handout and eventually becomes a 40-page, slick cover behemoth. Publication ends at the turn of the century.


Realizing that the Broadway store is competition for the downtown store, Bunnell closes it. A new store opens on Franklin. Lee Flinn recalls an eventful day at the Franklin store when a major windstorm blows the neon sign off the storefront facade. The massive sign lands on an unlucky individual's car.


Bunnell and O'Brien purchase the Hitchcock building and initiate another remodel and expansion of the downtown store.


Bunnell and Jil Sevy, after dating for nearly a decade, finally tie the knot.


Bunnell realizes Franklin is not a fun place to be and decides to move the Franklin store to Cole Village shopping center.


Final major expansion and remodel of the downtown store. Employees are overheard saying, "Look at all this space! Now we can have some serious in-store performances!" A professional quality P.A. and stage are purchased shortly thereafter. Current size of The Record Exchange is over 7,000 square feet, nearly 20 times the size of the original store. "There is order in this chaos," says Bunnell.


Cole store closes, and the downtown store becomes the epicenter of independent music.


Overhang on the downtown store catches fire. Employee Brian Rambur saves the day. When asked about his daring feat, he replies, "No comment."


New Hitchcock Building mural designed by Toby Robin of Oliver Russell and painted, again, by Fred Choate. The mural features teethed birds with whorled legs, flying V guitars and star-shaped flowers. It's a major public art project. "We wanted a piece that reflected our aesthetic and made people want to come in and investigate the store. There's a lot happening in here and Toby Robin, the primary designer, really captured that in the mural," says Sevy. Bunnell cites the mural completion as one of the most satisfying moments in the history of The Record Exhange. "With the help of creative local artists, we created something quite unique," says Bunnell. The mural is signed and dedicated in the spring of 2007.


The Record Exchange turns 30 and invites the world to the celebration. Part 1 of the celebration is a spring concert at The Egyptian Theatre featuring Portland indie rockers Menomena and Irish band The Frames. Glen Hansard, chief songwriter/guitarist for The Frames, has said that The Record Exchange is one of his favorite record stores, and that it was the first place in the States where he and his bandmates saw their records on the shelves. Part 2 of the celebration features American legend Dave Alvin playing at Alive After Five.

See Also:

The Timeline

The Veteran: Tim Johnstone

The Veteran: Lee Flinn

The Veteran: John O'Neil

The Music: In-store shows rock TRX