In the modern digital day and age where MP3s have become the number one preferred format for listening to music, it’s a strange miracle that somehow vinyl record sales are continuously rising. Last year, record sales were up by 18%, the highest it’d been in over 15 years. Whether the sales are up because it’s the “trendy” thing to do is up to you to decide, but one thing is for certain. People are listening to music the way that it SHOULD be listened to. At home, sitting in front a a record player, focusing on un-compressed songs without any distractions.
With the sales being up so high, that also means that more and more record shops are popping up all around the nation. Here in Kansas City, the crown champion of record stores is pretty much unanimously decided as being Lawrence, KS’s The Love Garden. With it being such a long drive out to Lawrence, a lot of people in KC, myself included, would often wait to go every couple of months before browsing around and dropping tons of cash on records. Finally, though, there’s now a brand new alternative in the local KC area. Mills Record Co.
Mills practically popped up over night. The duo of Judy Mills and Chris DeLine appeared out of nowhere and opened up the coolest new shop in Kansas City. Rather than choosing the same route as other local record stores Zebeedees and Vinyl Renaissance, Mills Records focuses almost entirely on new vinyl, and for cheap, too. The selection is expansive and super affordable, which is fantastic. On top of that, Chris and Judy aren’t just interested in what’s popular, they want to know what YOU like. When purchasing albums, they’ll consistently ask the customer what they’d like to see in the store, or once in my case, what specific types of film soundtracks I’d like to see in stock. Everything is duly noted, and it’s almost guaranteed that the next time you come in, there’ll be plenty of your suggestion in the racks.
On that note, Judy and Chris recently answered some questions in order to let everyone get more familiar with themselves and the shop:
Lost In Reviews: Introduce yourselves. As Bill says to Dusty in Twister, let everyone know why you are… the way you are.
Judy: Why I am, who I am… Deep questions. I’m just a girl with ideas, who pretty much got tired of working for large corporations that don’t really care about people, community, individual ideas or dreams and started making my own thing. I come from a family who did their own thing, so I’m just returning to that tradition, but on my own terms.
Chris: Why am I the way I am? I’ve put plenty of time into that sort of thinking and still haven’t come up with much. But besides life’s big “Whys”, I’m a dude who had the good fortune of being able to blog about music as a job for a few years, which led me to meeting Judy, which ultimately led to me moving to Kansas City to help open the store. Besides that: I’m a Virgo; I appreciate long walks in the rain; I love me some hot chicken;* and even after all the drama, I still like Britney Spears. Actually, that might help explain why I am the way I am.
*Editor’s note: GEORGE LIKES HIS CHICKEN SPICY!!!
LIR: How was Mills Records born? What lead to it’s creation?
Judy: Kansas City needed a place like Mills Record Company and I needed a place that I could bring my dog to work, listen to whatever music I wanted and work with people I enjoy. So thus, a business was born.
LIR: Did you both create the store together?
Judy: Sorta. I had a dream, Chris helped convince me to chase the dream, then I convinced Chris to help me build the dream. I know, I know… all that dream business… but it was, and in fact, it still is.
LIR: You recently had Jack White’s Third Man Records truck parked in front of your store for a few hours. How did you land this highly sought after rolling record store?
Judy: It was none of our doing. a friend of the store told Third Man about us. and we are grateful for such kindness.
LIR: What is your two’s own personal history with records and record collecting?
Judy: I buy records to listen to. I open them, I play them, I feel them. Collecting is an art form that I haven’t acquired really. I’m too tactile to collect and I’m not one for delayed gratification. I could never be a collector-flipper. It is against who I am. But I damn well buy them and they do collect…but it’s just not a “collection”. I admire collectors, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I am not one.
Chris: I don’t collect much of anything (besides women’s phone numbers… am I right, fellas?!), but did actually do the Third Man stuff for a while when I lived in Nashville. I used to hoard CDs and tapes on a disturbing level though. Around the turn of the Millennium I used to go on eBay and buy bulk lots to expand my “collection.” Dating back to high school, I used to always buy and sell used CDs to help support my own habit. There’s a little bit of full-circle-ness to this whole record store thing.
LIR: What’s your favorite item in each of your collections (if you have collections)?
Judy: The White Stripes’ Under Great Northern Lights – B shows.
LIR: What’s your favorite album of all time and why?
Judy: DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing. Because it’s perfect. Because it makes your soul want to explode the swell is that big.
Chris: Curveball time… Something by the Tragically Hip.
LIR: Which upcoming releases this year are you the most excited about?
Judy: Neko Case has got to finally release that album she’s been cooking for a year now.
Chris: Yeezus Christ Superstar
LIR: What are your goals for Mills in the future?
Judy: To be a kick ass place to buy music, to hear music, and to talk about music. Plus, a few other things. But a girl can’t share all her secrets on a first date, Richard. You haven’t even bought me a drink yet.
Mills could not be run by nicer people, and I’m not just saying this as a puff piece, but more-so as a genuine love letter. Mills Records deserves your attention, patronage, and money. They’re a more cost friendly and travel-friendly alternative to driving out to Lawrence for The Love Garden (although bi-monthly trips are still highly recommended). With the store being open only a month now, they’ve already had in-store performances and even acted as a stop for Jack White’s infamous Third Man Records Rolling Record Store, as mentioned above. Next time you’re in westport and feel like browsing through racks of records, Mills is by far the place to go. It’d be fantastic to see this shop growing and growing by the year, growing along with the record sales.
Follow Mills Record Company online at MillsRecordCompany.com
And to visit Judy and Chris, visit Mills Records Company at
314 Westport Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111
By Richard Pepper
Photos By Brandon Tiller