Kingfield record shop hits the road

Roadrunner Records is moving out of its longtime home at 43rd & Nicollet and plans to open a new location two blocks south in June. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

Roadrunner Records is leaving its longtime home, but it won’t be hard for regulars to find.

The store, which opened at 43rd & Nicollet in 1986, will relocate two blocks south to 4534 Nicollet Ave. Ideally, the store will open for business around June 1, though with the coronavirus pandemic it’s hard to say for sure, according to shop owner John Beggs.

“The best thing for us is it was affordable and close,” he said.

Beggs bought Roadrunner Records in 1999 from original owner Todd Adams. The shop grew and shrunk over the years with trends in the economy and the record business. The situation at 4304 Nicollet Ave. was always a bit informal, and often Roadrunner had no official lease and an affordable rent. The building, which also housed recently closed Midwest Cycle Supply, was sold last summer and Beggs began to look for a new space.

“I never considered this place mine,” he said.

John Beggs at Roadrunner Records. Photo by Michelle Bruch

The new location will be. The Beggs family bought the building at 45th & Nicollet and are in the process of renovating it. The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved a zoning change allowing the store to operate there last month.

“It’s a cool little spot and the neighbors are sure on board,” Beggs said, noting the positive reaction he got when notifying locals about the zoning change the shop needed.

Roadrunner’s new home has been several businesses in the past. In fact, this will be the second record store to operate there; it was previously home to Wide Angle Records, which closed in the early 2000s.

Despite streaming music taking over the industry, the niche of vinyl collectors and appreciators remains solidly intact, Beggs said. Business through February was “really good” for Roadrunner Records, he said, with a lot of young customers coming in to stock their vinyl collections.

Beggs said he has a stockpile of good collector records that he’s sitting on for when the new store opens. Record Store Day, traditionally the biggest sales day of the year, is scheduled for June 20, but he’s not optimistic that will happen with the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s the only true big crowd day, and there’s just no way it’s going to come down June 20,” he said.

In April, Rolling Stone magazine published an article about how the pandemic could kill off independent record stores. But Beggs thinks as long as record collections keep going, he can keep going, and he’s encouraged by the relative vibrancy of the Minneapolis record store scene.

“It’s got to be the younger people who really care, because streaming has made music really disposable,” he said.

Since the statewide order closing non-essential businesses in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, Roadrunner has mostly been focusing on the move and hasn’t been doing many sales. Still, Beggs has shipped off records to some regular customers who have called and asked. The store has also been selling gift cards. The plan had been to close the current location at the end of May and open the new shop on June 1. With the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, Roadrunner Records may have already had its last day of business at 43rd & Nicollet.

“We only wanted to be closed for two days; well, now we’re closed every day,” Beggs said.