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The Record Store

The Record Store: A Place for Pearl Jam Fans (and Then Some)

Hang out at Run Out Groove Records in Burbank, CA
Run Out Groove Records co-owners Jeff Ferguson and Ellen Rehak (Credit: Koury Angelo)
Run Out Groove Records co-owners Jeff Ferguson and Ellen Rehak (Credit: Koury Angelo)

Thirty fans fill Run Out Groove Records’ tightly packed 350-square feet for an exclusive listening party of Pearl Jam’s new album when, 30 seconds into the first song, the livestream cuts out. The mood dips, until co-owner Jeff Ferguson announces, “This is why records are better.” 

Everyone laughs, and it reminds me why record stores are better, too. Co-owners Ferguson and Ellen Rehak set out to create a record shop that would be, as Rehak puts it, “the living room of the neighborhood” for local music fans. They’re succeeding, seeing as people began lining up for a recent Record Store Day at 4:15 pm Friday before the store’s 8:00 am Saturday opening. Every detail of Run Out Groove feels warm and bespoke, from handcrafted bins to vibrant music-themed art to an ambiance straight out of your coolest college radio station. Even the records they carry feel curated since, according to Ferguson, “We fill it up with everything we love.” This mostly translates to rock — metal, indie, classic, punk, even yacht — and a substantial jazz collection, so much that they’ve become authorized Blue Note dealers. When the livestream returns moments later, the store transports me back to the best used CD stores of my youth, bopping along with a shop full of strangers in a shared moment. 

(Credit: Koury Angelo)

Ferguson and Rehak’s passion for music goes way back: he’s been collecting records, drumming, and going to multiple concerts a week for decades, she was a “slacker punk rock kid” before later becoming a bartender at the legendary L.A. venue Largo. The couple came up with the idea of Run Out Groove during the pandemic, when Ferguson asked, “The world is ending, but if it doesn’t, are we doing all the things we really want to do with life?” Rehak adds, “We were talking about, ‘Oh won’t it be nice if we get back to that communal experience of being in a room full of people enjoying the same music together?’ Record stores have always been that for me and for Jeff. People were missing the tactile sensation of flipping through records and having accidental conversations with somebody else in the store, which now happens here all the time. And I love it.”

That love is present in the store’s many events. Since opening in June 2022, they’re hosting art exhibits (Mazzy Star’s Jill Emery), in-store performances (actor/singer Brendan Hines), one-man punk cover shows (Fred Armisen), and listening parties (including one for Green Day’s Saviors where GREEN DAY SHOWED UP). They dream of expanding even further, but no matter how big they get, Rehak and Ferguson make creating a community look easy, since, as he puts it, “We’ve never had more fun.”

The Pearl Jam listening party. (Credit: Brendan Hay)

How do you find your records?

Jeff: In the early days, I was haunting estate sales and auctions, and it’s tough in L.A. because you really are competing with a lot of people. But now we’ve been here long enough that people are walking in the door to sell us stuff, and that’s ultimately where you want to get. We still curate, but also make it a policy that we don’t turn anything away. 

Like, if it’s classical, we add it to our loss leader bins. There’s some cool stuff in there, too. It’s funny, we tried free bins, but nobody was touching them. So then we raised the bins to $.50 cents and people started digging in. When I told this to Mike Dirnt from Green Day, he put it perfectly, “People love a bargain more than they’ll have a handout.”

Whats the most expensive record youve ever sold?

Ellen: The Beatles’ butcher cover. It was on the wall for a month or so, when two young women walked in and one of them gets her dad on FaceTime right away and goes, “Dad, look what they have here.” And he’s just going, “Buy it.” And she goes, “Dad, it’s a thousand dollars.” And he goes, “BUY IT!”

How about your rarest record?

Ellen: “The butcher cover, or this Ornette Coleman test pressing.

Jeff: “This copy of Kind of Blue is rare too, as it’s a ’59 pressing with the misprint of (Cannonball) Adderleys name spelled wrong.

Ellen: I’ll show you a rare and precious item: a Wayne Newton star-shaped, clear disco record.

Jeff: How much did that price out for?

Ellen: I put it at $10.

Jeff: Bargain at twice the price.

Who is the most famous person who has ever come into your store? (Thanks to being entertainment-industry adjacent in Burbank, they have a long list of celebrity customers and friends, but two highlights.)

Ellen: [X’s] John Doe. Another old friend from Largo Days, I buy autographed copies of his books from him directly and he drops them off in person.

Jeff: [Actor] Tatiana Maslany was actually our first big spender. And she is also a friend, as she is married to—

Ellen: To Brendan Hines, who is a longtime friend of mine. When he played here, Tatiana worked the merch table for him. It was really cute.

Record Store Day, April 20, 2024. (Credit: Brendan Hay)

What was your first concert?

Ellen: AC/DC, at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, the Who Made Who tour.

Jeff: Although, [the] more fun story is…her and her best friend borrowed their parents’ car and drove from Toronto to New York to see the Ramones, and the Dickies opened up.

Ellen: And I met Debbie Harry on the stairs and I almost wanted to lose my mind.

Jeff: I went to a bunch of shows with my dad, but for some reason the first real one I can remember is ZZ Top at the Forum. They were at the absolute peak of the Eliminator record and did a trick where they fell through the floor, but their guitars were left spinning on stage… and I was gone. It’s fantastic. I was hooked after that.

What is your favorite album?

Jeff: It’s like picking your kids, so I usually have to go genres. If I do jazz, it’s usually Kind of Blue. But picking one rock album… I don’t know. I’m not good at this game. I guess one of my favorite full complete albums is, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis?

Ellen: As far as an album that feels like I’m reading a book, (Paul Simon’s) Graceland. If I had to go to life-changing albums, I would say the first Cramps record.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to open a record store?

Ellen: An important point in my view, coming from a hospitality background, is: be friendly. I grew up going to record stores in the ‘80s and it was like, you just get this from somebody behind the counter. (She pantomimes silent sulking.) So here, everybody gets greeted, everybody gets a, ‘Let me know if you need help.’ It opens avenues to talk.

Jeff: Totally, yeah. All the jokes in High Fidelity are hilarious, but you can’t actually do that and expect to survive.

Ellen: Right. We’re not High Fidelity.

Run Out Groove Records will be moving in July. Visit them at: 3208 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505