There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere walking into Space Monkey Records. Rock music is blaring. Vinyl records in sturdy, branded bins line the walkways. Retro decor sends you back to a time when a needle and a turntable could carry a tune.
“There’s been this micro uptick in vinyl for about a decade and really in the last five years, it’s gone off the chart. It has been an incredible resurgence,” says owner Patrick Holl, an Evansville resident and lifelong collector who began selling records 16 years ago at local flea markets and expos. “When we first opened the store, it was nothing but vintage records, but we carry new records now.”
Space Monkey Records, Evansville Living’s 2021 readers’ pick for “Best Place to Purchase Vinyl Records,” is a treasure trove of vintage music records and memorabilia, including more than 100,000 new and vintage 12- and 7-inch records, CDs, cassettes, and 8-track tapes, along with comic books, band T-shirts, and posters. Space Monkey also has the largest selection of new and pre-owned turntables within a 100-mile radius, with 30 different models in stock.
“The reason this store is here is because 50 years ago, I fell into a record store in Downtown Evansville called FolzCity Boutique. I was 15 years old, and it is the first store that I’ve ever been into that you walk in and it was just an attack of the senses — the music, the smell from incense. (They) had carpet on the wall, they had stained glass, they had wood carvings. It literally makes the hair on my arms stand up when I think about this.”
Holl says FolzCity Boutique served as the blueprint for Space Monkey Records, which opened in 2019. In fact, he was able to salvage several old stained glass pieces from the original store that are on display throughout Space Monkey.
A lifelong music lover and former owner of his own disc jockey business, Holl sold records at regional flea markets for 16 years before opening Space Monkey. Today the brand has six vendor mall locations in Kentucky and Indiana in addition to the freestanding store at 1201 E. Riverside Dr.
The origin of the store’s funky name comes from a trip Holl took with his son eight years ago to Portland, Oregon, where they stopped a place called Space Monkey Café.
“I thought, ‘That is the most clever name I’ve ever heard.’ You could do so much with it on an advertising basis,” he says. “So I wish I could say I thought it up myself, but I borrowed it, but I’ve got a trademark down on Space Monkey Records.”
Though the store, decked with thousands of vinyl records, vintage stereos, and rows of memorabilia, is more of a time machine into a different world of music, Holl says he’s found people of all ages browsing its endless collection.
“We have got moms and dads that will bring in a 14-year-old, 15-year-old kid and let them shop,” he says.
Despite retail ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic, Space Monkey Records has continued to grow since opening two years ago, even launching a nearby self-service closeout store called Road Kill Music Media Salvage, which offers discounted prices to members.