June 13, 2024

Hidden in a back alley, at the other end of a dim parking lot and past sign in the shape of a rat, a musical gem thrives on Magnolia Avenue. The Rathole is a local record store with a vast selection of records, CDs, cassettes and memorabilia across genres.

As soon as you pull into the parking lot, the shop’s initial vibe compels customers to enter. Their signature skeleton is currently in a half-open coffin, and racks of vintage T-shirts and a variety of plants line the sides of the black pop-up tent that surrounds the front door.

Once you enter the store, loud music (usually classic rock) fills your ears and a sea of records in rows down the center and along the sides and back wall. While the shop is not particularly large, its collection is. Stickers, posters, T-shirts and record covers of all genres cover the walls.

The shop opened in 2017 after the owner Chris Seibert moved to Riverside from Santa Barbara, Calif.

After closing the shop in Santa Barbara in 2007 and reopening a store in Riverside, Seibert noticed the high demand for records in the area. He tried to maintain the integrity of his original shop and cannot note any significant differences between the two.

The decor in the shop is unique. It exhibits the personal style of the owner as well as its customers. While it does feature a lot of wall decorations that consist of the store’s merchandise, the funky carpet, black walls and exposed light fixtures truly embody the classic feel of a record shop. The decorative process happened in the best way possible: naturally.

“I cannot explain how the decor started,” Seibert said. “It just gradually ended up this way.”

Seibert found his love for records at an early age. He traveled and sought to collect rare items. It was not until he returned home that he realized that others shared his love for records.

“I used to travel to England to buy rare records, CDs and DVDs and I would bring them back here and resell them,” Seibert said. “I started realizing the demand for music from that.”

The music collection at The Rathole ranges from Led Zepplin to Miles Davis to even Taylor Swift. With such a wide selection, The Rathole is diverse enough to draw in all kinds of customers.

Seibert acquires the wide collection throughout the months via 35 distributors worldwide. With brand new products coming in consistently, it is rare not to find something eye-catching at The Rathole.

With the demand for new and old records steadily rising, people are being offered more places to find them. What keeps customers returning to The Rathole is the classic and nostalgic feel that merely stepping into the shop provides. A classic record shop connects customers and music in a way that commercial vinyl suppliers like Urban Outfitters or Barnes and Noble cannot. At The Rathole, customers can make meaningful and personal connections with the merchandise.

“My favorite part about the business is seeing people happy after they find things in the store that are meaningful to them,” Seibert said. “CDs, records, tapes, posters, stickers, buttons, patches, posters or DVDs. I see people all day buying things that are meaningful to them.”

Visit that corner shop tucked into a back alley on Magnolia Avenue. The Rathole will pleasantly surprise music enthusiasts everywhere.

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