We talked to: Turn It Up!
We are thrilled to speak with Patrick Pezzati, owner of Turn It Up! Learn more about his business, and find out what's been happening at the shop!
Could you give us a brief history of Turn It Up?
Well, it definitely started many years ago and is related to family music history. For instance, my cousin Suze was Bob Dylan’s girlfriend back in the day, so clearly I already had a type of connection to the music world from a young age. After working at various record stores in Boston and New York, I ended up in Western Massachusetts at NRM in May of 1993. That’s where Chandra, my now wife and business partner of many years, met and began our journey together.
After I left the job at NRM, I started working at Faces, and Chandra and I began discussing opening our own record shop. We both had decent CD collections and a desire to share our passion and knowledge with other music enthusiasts and collectors. After various challenges finding a space and securing funding, we finally became tenants at our current location, with a lease of 8 months to see how things would go. No one was optimistic, as we’d already been met with setbacks and did not have capital. But we forged ahead with a credit card advance for $1K and some money from family and a friend. We signed a lease on the Friday before Thanksgiving of 1995, and opened the store with 1800 CDs, some records, and some DVDs. Chandra quit her job and started at the store full-time, then I followed suit in April of 1996, and I’ve been working there full-time ever since. In February of ‘96, Sean Glennon wrote an article which really helped bring in business. We slowly began attracting regulars, and we worked hard–and still do to this day–to develop and maintain our clientele and relationships. We have stuck with our “no new releases” policy, and continue to offer our frequent buyer card, which people still really appreciate. For us, it has always been, and will always be, about loyalty and our regular customers—folks who come in, week in and week out, and add to their collections.
How are things going for the store? Has it been quite busy during this holiday season?
Things have been really good overall. One big thing is that young people are buying both vinyl and CDs, and have super diverse tastes and interests. They are actually doing research and exploring a variety of genres, from Coltrane to Pink Floyd and beyond. They are psyched to discover more obscure albums, and our price point—$8 for most CDs, plus plenty of reasonably priced records—works out perfectly for them. We also have great stuff coming in from folks selling their collections, which is always exciting. We have our radio show, hosted by Roger and an occasional guest, and based on stuff you might not know, but that you might want to get deeper into once you hear it for the first time. Things were stressful during the initial months of reopening during the pandemic, and some people were a bit nervous about coming back to work and shopping in the store. But with open communication and safety protocols in place, we quickly got a rhythm back and things have been running pretty smoothly ever since.
What are some challenges you endured, and what are some positive things that you’ve learned/that have come out of the past (nearly) two years?
My feeling is to be as safe as possible, but still do it anyway. It’s okay to feel nervous, but if you’re being mindful of taking precautions and protecting your staff, customers, and yourself, you can still carry on as a successful business. Early on, we put some practices into place such as having people drop their cash in a box, reducing our hours as needed, and limiting interactions as much as possible. We get tested regularly, we’re all masked, and we offered to pay our staff $100 per person to get vaccinated. Overall, we feel pretty good about our stores and that we’re all being as safe as possible.
Beyond that, I feel like in this time, people have regained an appreciation for things they enjoy and cherish, such as connecting with other humans, their homes, their pets, and nature.
As a business owner, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
I bike, run in the woods, and have enjoyed fixing up/renting out cabins in New Hampshire that Chandra and I purchased in June of 2020. I love being in nature whenever possible—it’s my time to decompress and really connect with my surroundings. We are so lucky to have a great balance of culture and nature in this area.
Is there anything you’re excited about regarding the business in upcoming months, from sales to events to growth opportunities?
We’ll just keep on keeping on. I feel grateful that we have a strong and committed team. We’ve also talked about remodeling in Northampton, so stay tuned for more on that!