Chad Bledsoe, owner of Chad's record store on Vine Street, sells a couple of vintage vinyl records to Molly Schimpfy.Photo by By Margaret Fenton
Chad Bledsoe, owner of Chad's Records since 1988, will begin selling his inventory at Winder Binder Gallery & Used Books on Saturday, according to his cousin and gallery owner David Smotherman.
Chad's, which sells primarily used vinyl records and music-related collectibles, sustained some water and smoke damage during a fire that destroyed neighboring Toast Cafe on Vine Street on Feb. 21, but Bledsoe said thanks to the efforts of firefighters, he came out lucky.
"They took stuff off the walls and put plastic over everything, so it's not too bad," he said.
Bledsoe will give up the approximately 900-square-foot Vine Street location for about 500 square feet of space inside Winder Binder, 40 Frazier Ave. Smotherman said the two still are figuring out how the new space will be identified, but that he definitely will feature "Chad's" in the front window to take advantage of 25 years of branding.
Smotherman said his cousin inspired him to pursue his dream to open a gallery and shop 19 years ago and he always wanted to sell used records, but did not want to compete against family. He had always held out hope the two might one day work together, he said.
"Within an hour of hearing about the fire, I called him," Smotherman said. "We decided to do it [Monday]."
Both say they believe the merger helps both.
"We get asked all the time for vinyl, but it'd take me 10 years to understand the record business," Smotherman said. "I think it's the perfect solution. We get vinyl, and he gets more exposure."
Winder Binder sells primarily new and used books, but also represents 80 local folk artists. It also sells Noog T-shirts. The record shop inventory will be treated as a consignment, according to Smotherman.
As part of the deal, Smotherman wanted to make sure Bledsoe would be in the store at least three days a week talking to customers. The rest of the time will be spent filling online orders and buying new inventory.
Bledsoe said he has been spending as much time as he can at the Vine Street shop cleaning the inventory and will begin moving it today.
"I think this is something I feel good about and we'll see what happens," Bledsoe said.
"He's got the setup and hopefully that is something I can plug into."
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at email@example.com or at 423-757-6354.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...