Record Shop Inquiry: Gimme Gimme Records

Daniel Cook | Photo by Nathan Solis
Daniel Cook | Photo by Nathan Solis

Gimme Gimme Records
4628 York Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90041
(323) 550-1878
Genres: Smörgåsbord (A little bit of everything)

East coast transplants are common in Los Angeles though it’s not everyday that an entire record shop makes the move west. In 1994 Daniel Cook opened his record shop Gimme Gimme Records in the east village, but when the ol’ gentrification wave priced him out of the New York neighborhood he decided on a scene change. After 18 years in New York he made his way over to Los Angeles and opened the shop in early 2013. Now his brightly colored shop sits pretty in the Highland Park neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Gimme Gimme’s setup is spartan. No gimmicks here. It has the feel of a close friend’s vinyl collection. The stacks are evenly laid out, with a few albums hanging onto shelves. Where most shops in the area offer a niche on a certain genre or scene Gimme Gimme is all inclusive. Disco, funk, blues, world, and all the usual suspects fill out the stacks.

Though the shop’s facade is flashy, inside there are few objects to detract from the vinyl. It’s timeless, the type of shop that could have existed in the 1980s, and hopefully will stick around for a long time.

What does it mean to you to sell records?

It means I made some fairly dubious career choices along the way.

Your last job?

My last job was in 1994, working for Ursus Books. They are a high end rare book/ art book shop on Madison Ave. They are on a totally different level than Gimme, but I learned a lot on how things are done.

Some people say that records made a comeback recently, others would argue that they never really left. How do you see it?

Well, in my little world they never left. I was always a vinyl guy. I opened Gimme Gimme in the height of the CD era(1994). I briefly carried some CDs, but they were never really a format I personally liked. One of our upstairs neighbors left the bathtub running, and it flooded down on to our CD section…I took this as a sign, and threw out the whole section…never to return. In a larger sense, yes – records are making a comeback. Most new releases come out on vinyl, and that certainly wasn’t the case a few years ago. It seems like every cool record, no matter how obscure/rare has been or will be reissued on vinyl. More people are getting into vinyl – lots of younger folks, older guys “getting back into it”…. It seems like every other TV commercial has records in it as a signifier for “cool”.

What does your personal collection look like?

I have a few thousand records on shelves in alphabetical order. And then there are the little piles on the floor that are “new arrivals” or the “play pile” or the “purgatory pile” that I can’t decide if I should keep or sell. The music is pretty varied…but I feel like I have a pretty solid collection in lots of genres. I am not getting rich doing this, but I do get first pick of the records that come in!

Rarest or most prized record?

Lazy Smoke – Corridor of Faces or Rammellzee vs. K-Rob – Beat Bop

What makes your shop unique?

The versatility of genres that we carry. At any given moment we can have a kick ass jazz selection, or classic rock, or soul, or country, or Latin, or punk or African…. I think it’s fun to be able to satisfy customers in all those genres. It’s great for me because I get to listen to a pretty big variety that way too. Also, at any given time any of those sections can be weaker than I’d like…so that’s the challenge, to keep getting records to keep things interesting.

What is your background in music and how do you think it helps in the record selling business?

I was in a band back in the day, so I know what goes into creating these things that are in our bins. I always think of a story I read about Sun Ra. He and a bunch of guys from the Arkestra were in a record shop during the 70’s. The guys in the Arkestra were goofin’ on the disco records, Sun Ra shut them down by saying something like “every one of those records is someone’s dreams”.

Could you recommend an album that needs to be listened to on vinyl?

All of them.

Now some record labels include a free digital download with their LPs. Do you think this defeats the purpose of selling a physical copy?

I think it is a cool value added bonus. I love records, but they don’t fit on my iPhone or track very well in my car…so the added downloads are the best of both worlds.

Will cassette tapes ever see a rise in popularity?

I think they already have. You wouldn’t have asked that question 5 years ago. I also think they are an inferior format to records.



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