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Gimme’s Community Lives On

Rhymes Records in New Haven was my first real record store. It was located on the second story above an art-house, independent movie theater, the York Square Cinema, and below a vintage clothing store. It was small. Crammed with new and used vinyl, walls of cassettes, zines from all over the world, and, later, a few cds. I was only about 13 when I started going there weekly, and it was my favorite place on the planet. 

My friends and I would beg our parents to drop us off at the Stop and Shop parking lot on Saturdays to take the bus from our suburban town into the city. It was an event that included skateboarding, pizza, and hanging out at the Chapel Square Mall. But it all centered around Rhymes. We’d head there first. Walk up the steep, dark, musty smelling stairwell and into another world. The girl behind the counter, Lauren, had bleached blond hair and a nose ring, she sat in front of a wall of Jesus and Mary Chain 7”s and VHS tapes of Black Flag. The others who worked there were in local bands like the Bell System. The people hanging around the store had names like London, and Dig’em and they told us which records to buy and which bands were coming to town. We would flip through records for hours, deciding what each of us would buy that on that trip - Greg would buy the Leeway record “Born To Expire,” I’d buy the Misfits cassette bootleg of “Walk Among Us” because you couldn’t buy it any other way, Keith would grab the first Warzone Lower East Side Crew” 7”, Mike the new 76% Uncertain record “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Log.” And then we’d head back to one of our houses and tape them all on cassettes so that we each had a copy of the day’s score.

My entire life was shaped by that record store. It’s where I caught the bug. Soon after my first trips to Rhymes, I started my own hardcore band, Beef Trust, we booked our own tours and put out our records on small independent record labels. I spent my high school weekends and vacations sleeping on punk rock house floors and playing VFW halls and dirty clubs up and down the East Coast, in out of the way places like Greenfield, Massachusetts, Fayetteville, South Carolina, Reading, Pennsylvania, Augusta, Georgia. In each of those towns we’d go to the record store, put our 7” records on consignment, and flip through the stacks to find regional releases and used records that had been out of print for years. And each city and town had its own best stores. New York City had VenusGenerationSome RecordsSubterraneanRocks in Your Head. Boston had Second ComingPlanet, In Yr. Ear. Hoboken had Pier Platters. Philadelphia had the Record Exchange. And the off-the-beaten path stores were some of the best…stores in Waterbury, Connecticut (the great Brass City and Phoenix Records), Northampton, Massachusetts (Dynamite), Albany (Last Vestige and Erl) and the mighty Trash American Style in Danbury, Connecticut.

The education I got, and the people I met, at these record stores had a profound effect on my life. It’s a major reason we started Gimme Radio[1]. We wanted to figure out a way to create an online experience that had that same feel of going to an independent record store – where you could meet other music fans and discover and buy new and rare music from a place that didn’t feel like a Wal-Mart or even a Sam Goody or Coconuts.

And we did it for metal and punk with the Gimme Metal store, we did it for Americana and alternative and classic country with the Gimme Country store, and we had just launched a third shop to cater to underground and classic hip hop with the Gimme Hip Hop store. Instead of a section of a physical retail store that was curated by the clerks, we had sections of our store hand-picked by our DJs and curated by music sites like Metal Injection and Metal Sucks. Instead of a corner of the store with obscure metal, indie and punk t-shirts for sale, we had a section of the Gimme Metal store that was dedicated to visual designers in the metal genre like Karmazid and Seldon Hunt and we had artist created merchandise like the Chuck Prophet “Trip in the Country” shirt. Like independent record stores that had import bins and rarities on display, we organized the store by sub-genres and exclusives. Because we couldn’t have in-store appearances or performances, we instead highlighted records by artists that were hosting shows on the Gimme streaming apps and we promoted records that were tied to upcoming music festivals and tours like Psycho Las Vegas or the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest. Like physical retail stores, Gimme celebrated music that was topical (e.g., “2022’s Best Death Metal Bundle”; “Crossover Greats,” “Americana Rising”). We also launched the best metal vinyl subscription service with exclusive records from bands like Cattle DecapitationConvergePossessedBolt ThrowerMotörhead and over thirty other artists. 

I’m proud of the Gimme Metal store – it was the only one of its kind, the first truly community commerce driven music store… and we had plans to do so much more…

More like expanded community involvement through more curation of the catalog by the fans, customer written reviews, more fan and artist designed merchandise…. deeper involvement of writers, photographers and visual artists in the shopping experience… and, most importantly, more opportunities for exclusive releases, limited pressings, and reissues that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

And that’s why I am so excited to tell everyone that the stores will continue and will have the opportunity to eventually realize the full vision we set out to achieve. Despite Gimme being unable, at the moment, to continue the streaming radio portion of the Gimme business, Mainfactor, a company focused on e-commerce in the music industry, will be taking over the online stores. The Mainfactor team are the right people to carry the torch. The founder, Mike Fiebach, spent years working directly with artists and building them exceptional online stores, digital presences, and merch businesses. Mike understands what it means to be a fan and what fans expect.

Over the past few years you, the Gimme fans, were so supportive of our stores. You chose to buy releases from Gimme even when you could find the record for a few bucks cheaper on Amazon, because you knew that buying from Gimme supported the vision of a home for the metal, Americana and Hip Hop fans and that a purchase from a Gimme store did more to support the artists in those genres. I want to thank you again for that support and I hope you will continue to shop on Gimme because I have no doubt that Mainfactor will continue to build a digital version of Rhymes or your favorite local record store, an experience that you can call home...Onward.

-Tyler Lenane,
CEO and Co-founder Gimme Radio
December 14, 2023


[1] In fact the very first idea of Gimme came from a conversation I had years ago with someone from the legendary Amoeba records in SF, Berkely and LA – he told me about Amoeba’s enormous inventory of used records that sat in a warehouse while what customers saw in the bins at the retail stores was a tiny sliver of what existed…I thought about how amazing it would it be to have a free-form online radio station that played really obscure tracks from records that were available from that vast inventory and that you could buy with a click of a button.