By Rachel Blackwell, Studio M staff //
Throughout their childhood, sisters Brenna Gentry and Calvert Gentry McMahan spent hours upon hours listening to their parent’s vinyl record collection. Years later, the fourth-generation Franklin, Tennessee, natives have brought back their youthful musical passion by co-founding Luna Record Shop at The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee.
“Records were our first experience with music, as well as our first medium for music,” said McMahan. “Of course, we slowly moved to cassettes then CDs, but then came back around to vinyl once we realized the quality was much better than the compressed music we had become accustomed to.”
Gentry’s love for music — and record shops in particular — have existed since she was a child.
“At 8 years old I would set up a fake record shop in my parent’s home and encourage them to buy from me with Monopoly money. The magic of going into record shops when we traveled has stuck with me. I’ve been buying music in multiple formats from childhood, through teens, and of course, adulthood,” said Gentry.
For years the sisters had discussed opening their own business, but they were unsure what they would be passionate about. Then in the spring of 2015, Brenna had an epiphany that they should open a record shop.
“Although we didn’t have a musical background, we both loved music and missed the experience of actually buying albums versus streaming,” said McMahan.
In June 2015 the sisters brought Luna Record Shop to life. The business began as an online shop. However, they knew that they wanted a brick-and-mortar location in Franklin, the hometown they loved. The sisters got in contact with The Factory at Franklin, and before they knew it, in November 2015 their store in The Factory was up and running.
“It was a crazy whirlwind; it happened so fast,” said McMahan. “We started with a very small selection of new and used vinyl and music gifts. We wanted it to be like the shops we loved going to growing up. Over the last two years, we have grown tremendously in our product and customer base. We just rolled out a frequent buyer program for our two-year anniversary.”
Luna Record Shop sells, trades and buys new and used records, which allows the business to represent nearly “every genre that you can think of,” said McMahan. In addition to records, the shop also sells a variety of music-inspired gifts, including stickers, magnets, patches, buttons and candles, as well as vintage equipment such as receivers, turntables, cassette decks and stereos.
For holiday shoppers, McMahan recommends gifting one of the music-inspired altar candles from their in-store collection that feature images of artists such as Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Prince and Dolly Parton, as well as a limited number of New Wave saint prints from an artist in NYC representing artists such as Dave Gahan, David Byrne, Blondie and Siouxsie Sioux.
Although Luna Record Shop is located just outside of Nashville where it faces several competing record stores, McMahan said a couple things their store does differently make it stand out.
“As far as we know, we are the only shop that not only cleans the used records on a special machine, but we also play grade them before packaging so the customer knows what they are getting sound-quality-wise,” said McMahan.
Luna Record Store also holds occasional in-store performances by local artists such as Sound & Shape, Roz, The Wacky Friday, Breaux Gargano and Breakeven. The shop will also be hosting an upcoming event featuring an out-of-state band called Goodmorning Bedlam on Dec. 5, 2017.
As record lovers since their early years, both McMahan and Gentry have a running list of their favorite records that they own.
Calvert said some of her favorite records include Circa Survive’s “Blue Sky Noise,” Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie”, and all of the records by Pixies and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Some of Brenna’s all time favorite records include Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers”, Modest Mouse’s “The Moon & Antarctica”, Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” and Smashing Pumpkins “Siamese Dream”.
(The song “Luna” off “Siamese Dream” record was actually what inspired the shop’s name.)
The sisters said that they love and value the experience of shopping for music, and they are grateful that they get provide this opportunity for people, and all in a “judgment-free zone.”
“Being surrounded by and investing in music is nothing new, but something a lot of people forgot about, and something we don’t want them to forget about,” said Gentry.
Rachel Blackwell is a senior majoring in journalism at Middle Tennessee State University.
Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, allows student journalists to be published statewide and nationwide. It’s made possible through grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
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