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Petaluma Around the Clock: An hour at Spin Records

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PETALUMA AROUND THE CLOCK

This story is part 4 of a 10-part Argus-Courier series. Each week, we will skip ahead a few hours, clockwise, moving from place to place and person to person, capturing the colorful details, conversations, and activities that make up an average day in Petaluma. Next week, in part 5, we jump ahead to 3:30 p.m., spending part of an afternoon at the Petaluma Regional Library, where a lot more happens these days than just books.

See all of the stories in this series here.

“Hello! Welcome to Spin Records!”

It’s 1:44 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, and Kirk Charles Heydt is deftly reorganizing a box of vinyl albums, enthusiastically discussing the life and career of Frank Zappa with a customer, amiably greeting a pair of wide-eyed newcomers who look like they just landed in Oz, and somehow also answering the phone — an actual landline phone, that rings really loud, like phones used to.

As Heydt has just gleefully proclaimed, this is Spin Records, an improbably popular new music shop tucked away inside the MotoItalia motorcycle parts store, in the shabbily underwhelming, unavoidably aging, Petaluma Blvd. shopping center that also contains Lucky’s Market, the Aquarium Restaurant and Bar, the Alano Club, and The Laundry Depot laundromat.

Across the street and down a bit is the Petaluma Police Department, and around the corner is Acre Coffee and the Boulevard Café and Grill. Lunch is now over, school is not yet out for the day, and one would not expect this particular slice of Petaluma to be particularly busy at the moment.

But inside Spin (1060 N. Petaluma Blvd.), its location identified only by a couple of conspicuously DIY signs propped up outside, the place is bursting with human-powered energy.

“Weird, isn’t it?” laughs Heydt. “This really is actually an Italian motorcycle parts store. And it’s also Spin Records, Petaluma. We are a legit record store, but we also have Italian motorcycles, and some musical instruments, too. I guess that’s a pretty crazy combination, but it works.”

The stpre is not large, yet there are currently nine people, including Heydt, making their way around boxes of crates of records, a few motorcycles, piles of motorcycle parts, and each other.

At 2:09 p.m., one gentleman, with a small stack of records he plans to buy, excuses himself to run across to the laundromat to move his wet laundry. He will, he says, definitely be back.

Ten minutes later, he is.

Spin Records “officially” opened in early March, but Heydt has been gradually establishing the place over the last several months, beginning as a kind of underground, one-man, indoor record sale. It was word-of-mouth at first.

Then came the sign.

“Yeah, did you see my crazy sign?” he asks. “I made that. It’s sort of inspired by ‘Hee Haw,’ I guess. You could call it ‘hillbilly marketing’ or something. Other than the sign, I do zero advertising. But that thing really gets noticed, I’m telling you.”

In addition to selling records through Spin, Heydt is a local composer, music teacher, and multi-instrumentalist musician, performing under the name Tin Whiskers.

“Blah, blah, blah. All that and four dollars’ll get you a cup of coffee,” he laughs.

Though the shopping center gets a fair amount of traffic, it having the only grocery store on this part of town, Heydt says the area has not exactly been thought of as the “happening” side of Petaluma. But gradually, the neighborhood is changing. Acre has its fans. Wishbone draws long lines on weekends, and at certain times of day, the adjoining Boulevard Café parking lot is filled to overflowing with people using the restaurant’s back room for meetings.

“There was a time when no one would come down here much,” Heydt says. “But this little hub has become really hot, and I think it’s going to get hotter. It’s weird and great and totally unassuming, but people are finding it.”

PETALUMA AROUND THE CLOCK

This story is part 4 of a 10-part Argus-Courier series. Each week, we will skip ahead a few hours, clockwise, moving from place to place and person to person, capturing the colorful details, conversations, and activities that make up an average day in Petaluma. Next week, in part 5, we jump ahead to 3:30 p.m., spending part of an afternoon at the Petaluma Regional Library, where a lot more happens these days than just books.

See all of the stories in this series here.

Heydt believes that Spin has at least something to do with the new foot traffic to his shops particular corner of the shopping center.

“I honestly think the area has become livelier since we opened, up,” he says. “This is a weird magnet, a kind of power place or a Mystery Spot, magically drawing all kinds of people from all walks of life. There’s a huge group of homeless people near here, and they stop by too.

“And with the hipster coffee place around the corner, and the laundromat across the lot, and the Lucky store — which always has people going in and out — there are suddenly a lot of people crisscrossing around this particular little piece of Petaluma, and sooner or later they all walk or drive or cycle or stumble right past us.”

Heydt says that while weekdays can definitely get busy, weekends are busier. And weirder.

“See these Italian motorcycles right here?” he says. “On Saturdays, the owner’s buddies hang out here and talk motorcycles, while people come in and sort through the vinyl. One regular is Bruce Sexauer, a pretty famous luthier who’s also into motorcycles. He comes in here a lot.”

Among the other regulars, he says, are a number of DJs from KPCA community radio, on 103.3 FM.

“People like poking around, like a vinyl treasure hunt, kind of,” Heydt laughs. “One guy never heard of us, but he stuck his head in, then came in for a couple of hours, and left with a whole trunk full of records. A record store is only as good as the records you’ve got, and I started with my own collection, which had some pretty great stuff.”

Asked what his plans are for the future of Spin Records, Heydt laughs again.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he smiles and shrugs. “Maybe someday we’ll add cassettes.”