Record store FM Music to reopen as a speakeasy, says owner Faron Meek
To reopen his record shop, FM Music’s Faron Meek found inspiration while sitting on the couch with his wife and co-owner, Holly, one Saturday night.
“On television, some show about people looking at what log cabin to buy, this guy was inside the log cabin and opened up a little door, turned to his wife and goes, ‘We could have a speakeasy!’” Meek recalls when I spoke with him by phone last Thursday. “I just go, ‘Okay, that’s the way we can do it.’”
From that stroke of inspiration came Meek’s plan. Starting today, the North Kansas City record store will be available in half-hour increments. He’s loathe to describe it as “by appointment only,” considering that’s the purview of the beauty salon next door, but that’s basically the concept. The shop’s co-owner definitely wants it to be different, though, by paying tribute to the city in which he lives.
“We have so many great speakeasies open around Kansas City now,” explains Meek. “Just that concept of finding out when you can come and get in, and getting the password – I thought would be a fun thing to do with the reopening.”
Additionally, Meek wanted a way to control the number of people in the store. With the state’s guidelines, saying that a shop can have 25% of their normal occupancy, FM Music’s capacity of 49 people means about 12 customers at a time.
“Doing the math on that 25%? There’s no way people can be six feet apart in my store,” Meek says. Thus, the speakeasy, which allows the customers not only a unique shopping experience, but also the ability to feel safe while shopping. There will be a hand sanitizer station by the door, Meek will be wearing a mask, and customers will be provided with disposable masks for in-store use, as well. The owner’s even gotten a new chip reader, so that no-one even has to hand over their card or deal with cash.
There’s a personal element to all of this, as well. Meek and his wife closed the store on March 20, several days ahead of the city’s stay-at-home order, due to the fact that Meek is immunocompromised due a bout with leukemia.
“We’re just trying to make it a safe situation,” Meek forthrightly explains. “It’s been a concern about how to actually reopen and do business with my condition.”
It seems that the speakeasy concept is a hit. Along with a new logo from graphic designer Jud Kite, the announcement on the FM Music Facebook page last Tuesday has already pulled in a solid number of responses, according to Meek, thanks to the fact that they’re offering it not only to individuals, but family units, as well.
“I’ve got some families that usually come in – a husband and wife and two kids, another father and son – and shop with me on a regular basis, so we will allow a family unit to come,” Meek says. He continues on to say that it’s been a half and half mix in terms of people taking 30 minutes or a full hour. However, if your time runs out, that doesn’t mean you have to beat feet out the door.
“If someone’s shopping and I don’t have an appointment for the next 30 minutes, they’re definitely welcome to just keep shopping,” Meek is quick to assure me. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to stick around? Not only do you get a PBR on which to sip while you’re digging (with proper ID, of course), you can even control the stereo.
“I’m telling people that if there’s something that you have in your collection that you want to throw at me, bring a record in with you when you’re shopping: I’ll put it on and I’ll play it as you shop,” the owner continues, although if it’s a regular customer he knows, Meek will definitely be putting something on that he thinks that they need to buy.
If all that wasn’t enough, Meek mentions right before we hop off the phone that FM Music will have around 300 new vinyl titles and 500 used records which hadn’t previously been in the shop. Getting first crack at all that wax ought to be enough to tempt any record hound.
“We’re trying to make it a fun experience,” Meek concludes. “We’re just trying to come up with a fun way that we can reopen our business and control the shopping situation to keep it safe for the customers and for myself.”
FM Music can be found on Facebook, where you can also place orders for curbside pickup.