The unofficial epicenter of Seminole Heights' commercial renaissance, the 4900 through 5200 block stretch of North Florida Avenue, is showing more amenity to new independent businesses. record store opened on Dec. 1, and with that co-owners Carl Webb and Keith Ulrey posed the question: do people still like to buy vinyl records?
So far, Webb says business has been “Incredible. Beyond any expectation that Keith and I had.”
A handful of other shops and restaurants have opened on this stretch in recent months and years, including the , , the , , and .
Webb and Ulrey's background can't be hurting them. Both used to work at Vinyl Fever, the king of Tampa's indie record stores that closed last January
after thirty years in business. Vinyl Fever stayed true to its name and carried a sizeable stock of vinyl records until the end.
So with legitimate ties to respectable record store legacy, Microgroove is seems off to a good start.
4906 N. Florida Ave.
In the grooves: Used vinyl records is Microgroove's main stock. The store also carries CDs, turntables and turntable supplies. A small portion of the music stock are new releases.
Why sell vinyl records? “Vinyl never really died,” said Webb. “They never stopped making it. New releases keep coming out all the time. It's a tangible item. It's something that you can hold, something you can connect to. I
think some have missed that with down loading their music. I grew up with the medium, and for me the record is a kind of a passage into what the artist is thinking with the album cover and the presentation of the album art.”
Webb's babies: Record shop staffers who are true audiophiles, like Webb, often have a few records in their store that they secretly hope nobody buys. In Microgroove's bins, “There is this great rare Ray Charles record,” said Webb, “called 'Rhythm and Blues Meets Country and Western.' Maybe I can take it home one of these days, know what I mean?” Webb also keeps a torch light for a copy of James Brown's classic "Cold Sweat." “It's an original copy,” Webb said, “and what makes it even cooler is that a local owner had some love letters in that record cover, and they fell out when we bought it.”
Price range: Records start at 12 cents for 12-inch singles, to $89.99 for “BBC Transcription Series Vintage Led Zeppelin 1971.” Most new LPs are $15 to $20
Store hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Track records: Webb, 46-year-old and a Brooklyn native, has lived in Tampa since 1970. He graduated from King High School, “kicked around and went to college,” as he put it, “then lived lived in the Caribbean, then Aspen, then San Rafael (California).” In California he worked as a purchasing director for a hotel chain. When Webb moved to Tampa in 1992, he got a job at Vinyl Fever and stayed there until its closing. Currently he works a second job as a fraud analyst for a major bank, and lives in Seminole Heights with his wife Alice Webb.
Ulrey is an active veteran of local indie rock scene. He has drummed for numerous bands including Pohgoh, the Maccabees, and his current bands Zillionaire and Rec Center. He also books music acts for the New World
Brewery in Ybor City, and runs the New Granada music label. He worked at Vinyl Fever for its final three years.