This year’s challenges have changed the landscape for small business owners, and we continue to be endlessly energized by the innovative and adaptive spirit of the many incredible Vancity members we have the pleasure of working with. We connected with Dave Gowans, co-owner of Red Cat Records, to learn about his business – as well as the furry friend that inspired the name of this independent record store!
Tell us about the history of Red Cat Records. How did you come about becoming co-owner?
Red Cat was founded by Amy Brannen and Andrew Pearson in 2002. I was their first employee, along with a 30 pound orange cat named Buddy. The store faced some challenges, and it looked like it might shut down. Andrew and Amy moved to Nova Scotia, and my friend and business partner Lasse Lutick and I bought the store in about 2008 – I really didn’t want to see the store closed, and Lasse and I had talked about running a record store many years before that. Buddy the Red Cat passed away, but his likeness lived on in a Ry Cooder Album “My Name Is Buddy.”
What will people find at your store?
Red Cat Records is a music shop, selling new and used vinyl records, CDs, concert tickets (when there are concerts), turntables, and accessories. Red Cat has been voted “Vancouver’s Best Record Store” several years in a row in the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver issue.
How has your business been impacted this year?
In August, the lease on our second location at Hastings and Nanaimo came up for renewal, and faced with the uncertainties of COVID, we decided to close this location after four years. We experienced the immediate necessity to create an online store and presence to help with bills during the 3 months we were closed and also moving inventory out of the other location. Sadly, we also had to lay off some staff.
How has Vancity supported you in running your business?
Vancity helped us with applying for the Federal Loan, which was very helpful with day to day operational costs and the costs of installing custom plexi-glass between all of our display bins as well as the front counters for staff and customer safety. When we re-opened, we really wanted the store to feel like a safe, clean, and organized shop. Vancity also helped with freezing the interest on our store credit card as well.
What’s some advice you could give to others that are thinking about starting their own business?
I would think that a big thing right now is that it’s very hard to make a financial projection for any sort of small business, and it’s currently really hard to think ahead with retail and the unknowns that we could be facing with the potential of more lockdowns, economic challenges for everyone, etc.
How can people support you?
We have a gift card program where customers can support the store by buying a digital gift card to use in the shop.
Where can our audience find you or learn more Red Cat Records?
Vancity proudly supports small businesses at every stage through a number of initiatives. Learn more about our variety of products and services, including the ones mentioned above.