Written by Julia DuBois
Photos by Preston Valles and Avery Gerhardt
If you have explored Downtown Boise, then chances are that you have seen the Record Exchange. Mural covered walls, an optimal corner store location, and a neon sign with an outline of two dancers shining brightly as a beacon for a good time. And let it be known, the inside is just as inviting as the out.
Inside of the Record Exchange is an environment that any shopper–even one who’s not looking for music–is sure to love. They have an espresso bar in the gift shop, a variety of novelties scattered around the store, a selection of local and handmade goods, used and new clothing, posters, candles, crystals, journals, mugs, earrings–you get the point. The best part of this is that it doesn’t even include the actual records, yet.
Since the store’s opening in 1977, it has undergone quite a bit of growth. Originally, the store started with the previous owner, Michael Bunnel’s, own record collection. From there, it only expanded upward as Bunnel worked towards his vision of running a full service record store. Growth is not a linear process, but after reading this article posted by the Record Exchange, it appears that the journey of this store was a continual movement upward. After 46 years of being in business, the Record Exchange is able to call itself, “Idaho’s largest independent music store.”
For those of us who become easily overwhelmed by too many choices, be warned. The options for buying music at the Record Exchange almost appear endless. There are rows and rows full of records, walls full of shelfs full of records, and bins all around full of records. Essentially, every genre and decade of music is accounted for in their collection, allowing all shoppers to have the opportunity to walk away pleased with what they have found. For shoppers who have just a couple of dollars in their wallet, they can still have a great experience by exploring the budget bins available within the store. For shoppers who are ready to indulge and spend more than just a couple of dollars, then they can fulfill themselves by exploring the Rare Wax section and finding a special and entirely unique selection of vinyls. Not only are there just records, no, but a shopper can find CDs and cassette tapes as well. And if you are looking for CDs and cassettes because you do not have a record player, don’t worry, because the store has those available for sale too. The Record Exchange wants to ensure that this is a place where everyone belongs, and everyone can find something that brings them a little bit of joy.
We, the University Pulse Radio staff who were accompanied by Pulse’s radio producers, made our way down to the Record Exchange together as the final stop in our Record Store Series. Here, we were able to spend time together and bond over our shared love and passion for music. We were all scattered around the store finding different albums that spoke to us and filled us with excitement. Despite having a wide range in taste and preferences when it comes to what we listen to, we were all able to rejoice in each other’s happiness and excitement over the music that we were able to find. The Record Exchange truly is a special place in Downtown Boise, so next time you are around be sure to check it out.