Ragin' Records has been a Fresno fixture for many years and has been in its current Tower District location for three years. Photo by Ben Hensley
Written by Ben Hensley
To many in the Valley, vinyl records bring back feelings of nostalgia, remembering a time when gas prices were low, morale was high, and the most pressing social issues revolved around what brand of hairspray best held your Motley Crue look.
Paul Cruikshank, owner of Ragin Records in Tower District, hopes the opening of a second location will bring those feelings back to music lovers, old and new alike.
The current location of Ragin’ Records, on 1118 N. Fulton St., next to Veni Vidi Vici, has been open since November 2019, and after surviving the pandemic, Cruikshank is opening a new store in the River Park Shopping Center this July, hoping for a grand opening to coincide with the Fourth of July holiday.
The store is located on the ground floor spaces of the parking garage.
“These guys out at River Park really want us there,” Cruikshank said, adding that the opening of the new location was mainly driven by the need for more space. “We couldn’t really find another bigger spot in the right part of town, and I figured why not hit another part of town where maybe they’ve never heard of us.”
Despite many businesses struggling during the pandemic, Ragin’ Records stayed afloat, largely thanks to the number of people interested in buying records locally.
During the pandemic, the store opted to remain closed for the duration of the shutdown, eventually reopening to the joy of many vinyl collectors.
“We opened back up and we were doing even better during the pandemic because people wanted to do things at home,” Cruikshank said. “Collecting records was probably akin to collecting baseball cards for a lot of people.”
Cruikshank plans to keep the business solely in-person, opting to keep the company away from online services and deliveries.
He added that during the “busy season” after COVID-19 restrictions allowed the store to reopen, many distributors slowed down due to the demand for new or repressed vinyls.
“We may get a shipment in of 30, and then we may not see that title offered again for six months, eight months, a year even,” Cruikshank said. “That’s how long it’s taking to turn around new records or represses of records.”
Ragin’ Records does, however, pride itself on buying records from customers, increasing the fluidity of the local vinyl collectors’ ability to procure records.
“To me, that’s as big as selling,” Cruikshank said. “We’re hoping with that visibility we’ll have that many more people selling us used records.”
As for the future, Cruikshank hopes to open new local stores in the future, although he said that he is firmly attached to the original Tower District location, praising its community accessibility as well as its proximity to Veni Vidi Vici, which allows the store to host events on their patio.
He hopes to begin searching for possible sites after the River Park location is up and running.
“We come with a name that’s a good name; it was known in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and people want us there,” he said. “Our tagline says it all: ‘Ragin’ Records: On and off – mostly off – since 1988.’”