Record store relocates, adds 10-foot 'conversation piece'

Record store relocates, adds 10-foot 'conversation piece'

CHAMPAIGN — As Jeff Brandt was moving his record shop Exile on Main Street to Chestnut Street, a lot of people told him he needed to change its name.

"I can laundry-list the reasons for keeping our name, but now I can just point to the stage," Brandt said Thursday.

The 10-foot circular stage is a replica in wood and paint of Side One of the 1972 Rolling Stones LP "Exile on Main Street," complete with a bright yellow label, text and the band's famous tongue-and-lips logo.

Lars Gustafsson, owner of Champaign's Lars Gustafsson Painting, and employee Jason Coggan built and painted the stage on site, first using a giant compass to make the circle.

"Lars and Jason did a great job of painting it to make it look exactly like the label on the album, and Jason did everything by hand," Brandt said.

But the design wasn't exactly their idea.

"I was trying to think of a cool shape to build a stage and was talking to my girlfriend (Lara Coggan, Jason's sister) and she said, 'Why don't you make it look like a record?'" Gustafsson said. "One thing led to another and we thought we'd make it look like the vinyl record 'Exile on Main Street.'"

Brandt gave the two an unplayed copy of the LP. They referenced it as they spent three or four days working at Exile at 100 N. Chestnut St., in the old train station, just down the street from its longtime home at 1 Main.

The new stage looks like it could spin but ...

"The stage doesn't rotate. That's what everybody asks," Gustafsson said. "The next one we build will spin."

Meanwhile, Brandt has heard nothing but praise for the stage.

"Watching kids is fun," he said. "As soon as they see it, they start stomping on it and spinning on it and doing all kinds of funny things."

Brandt called his new conversation piece a "best-case scenario." Besides resembling the store's namesake, the stage represents what's kept Brandt in business the last 10 years, particularly the last four: Vinyl records.

"Way more than CDs and video games," he said. "When we first opened we didn't have a lot of vinyl. The shift toward it shows no signs of slowing down. People our age (Brandt is 39) have gone back to vinyl because it's a cool format."

Customer Jon "Cody" Sokolski, a musician and downtown developer who's a bit older than Brandt, said he buys only vinyl. He was inside the shop Thursday, rifling through the LPs.

Sokolski also said he's looking forward to performing on the new stage.

"I think it's awesome," he said.

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