Photo courtesy of Nice Price Books
Enoch Marchant, left, and Brian Shaw, right, will finalize their deal to buy Nice Price Records in Raleigh later this week.
Raleigh’s great record shop shuffle continues: Three weeks after Carrboro label Sorry State announced
that it would open a storefront in downtown Raleigh, and a week after Schoolkids Records made its move
off of Hillsborough Street official, the Nice Price Books location in Raleigh
has been sold to two employees. Brian Shaw and Enoch Marchant have both worked at Nice Price for several years; they expect to sign a contract for the sale of the business Friday.
“I first thought about buying Nice Price in 2003. I’d been working there for about 10 days,” says Marchant, laughing. “It became a thing we talked about that we might do until it became a thing where we had
to do this.”
Shaw and Marchant hope to revamp the space in terms of both stock and structure. In recent years, Nice Price has devoted an increasing amount of attention to new vinyl, whether that’s material from labels such as Sub Pop and Merge or reissue imprints putting hard-to-find editions back in circulation. The pair say they will continue that trend after selling items that have sat in the store for years, from comics tucked in corners to untouched cookbooks.
“We would like to be a full-fledged new record store. We probably won’t ever have a lot of new CDs, but records and tapes,” says Marchant.
They don’t plan to eliminate comics and books; to wit, Marchant realized it was finally time to buy the store while reading a copy of Robert Caro’s four-volume biography The Years of Lyndon Johnson
, on sale in the store. They simply plan to reconfigure how and where all these elements fit into the space.
Shaw and Marchant are adding wheels to the large wooden record crates, so that the inventory not anchored to the wall can be moved around the store. The change will enable them to free up the floors as needed—namely, for rock shows, book readings or fundraisers. As with Schoolkids Records’ future location in the Mission Valley Shopping Center, Nice Price hopes to eventually include a bar and a reading-and-listening lounge. At night, when the store is closed, they might open their floors as a rehearsal and recording space for upstart bands, too. All of these moves, Shaw and Marchant hope, should make Nice Price not just a store but a vital and participatory component of the Triangle’s artistic community.
“When we were teenagers in Raleigh, our bands played in The Record Exchange
every few months. If you had a demo that showed that you actually had four songs, they would let you play there,” says Shaw.
“If those bands want to come play in our store,” Marchant picks up, “they can.”
Given Schoolkids’ upcoming move across N.C. State’s campus and Nice Price’s plan to bolster its selections, the store will soon become the only shop for new music on Hillsborough Street. Shaw and Marchant —Raleigh natives, friends since middle school and longtime coworkers—have been shopping for records on the collegiate thoroughfare for more than 20 years. They’re both surprised to now own the place that they hope kids will make their destination.
Meanwhile, the other Nice Price Books location in the Triangle, on Durham’s Broad Street
, will remain with Barry Blanchette, who continues to own and operate the store. The chain’s Carrboro location closed in March, citing financial and geographical pressures