BELLEFONTE – The old is the new.
Vinyl records are making a comeback. At Bellefonte, there aren’t many options for buying records. Now, that’s about to change.
Today, Fez Records at 2042 Axemann Road in Bellefonte will officially open. The new business is located outside the popular Titan Market. The owner and operator of Fez Records is Michael Fester, who lives at State University with his wife Cortney. For Fester, his love of records and music began at a young age. Opening Fez Records, he said, was a dream come true.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been going to a record store. No matter where I live—in Las Vegas or Arizona—I’ll find a record store that I really enjoy spending my time going to,” Feist said. “I just want to be around people who love music as much as I do. So I’ll go there and spend a little money.”
With that in mind, Fester said he used the best elements of his favorite record store to create Fez Records. There are vinyl crates for every taste. There are listening stations so customers can listen before buying. There were comfortable sofas and chairs to sit and listen to whatever music he played that day. There are Fez Record t-shirts and stickers for sale. And bears! Yes, we invite customers to enjoy free beer while shopping.
Music and beer? Is it any better than this?
“Beer is important to me,” Feist said with a smile. “Beer and music.”
Opening his own record store has been on his mind for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve always loved the idea of having a place of my own, where I’d be surrounded by old and new vinyl. I wanted a place where people who wanted to get rid of old media could sell or trade it. I also wanted to Create a place where people can come and hang out,” Feist said.
Eventually, Fez Records will have live music performances with local musicians, he said.
“We want local musicians to come in and jam. In the space next to the Titan Market, we have an open space right outside our door. How convenient…we have a little overflow area. I want live music. I want people to come and hang out here and buy records,” Feist said.
Fester is the vice-principal of Park Forest Middle School at State University, so Fez Records is just a hobby—or a side hustle. He said he started looking for a location a few months ago. He looked at a lot of real estate before finding the location of the Titan Market.
“(Total) 1000 square feet…I don’t have to rely on the market opening doors, although I’ll definitely want to feed off some of their energy. Also, I can open it anytime. I share the parking lot with Axemann (the brewery), so I Great to catch some of their shrapnel from an event they host…I fell in love with the space from the start and the price was right. I just ran with it,” Feist said.
Inside Fez Records, the decor is nice, for no better word, cool. In addition to the big box of vinyl records, the store is decorated with a number of framed music posters, many featuring Fester’s favorite band, Pearl Jam.
“I’m 100% obsessed with Pearl Jam, so most of it has something to do with Pearl Jam. Luckily for me, Pearl Jam uses really cool modern artists to create their art. Turns out I have a lot of posters to decorate,” Feist said.
There’s something Fester says “A door without a door.” It is covered with various stickers. He hopes music lovers will bring some of their favorites to help decorate.
“I want to paint it red and stick it on. I encourage people to bring stickers in,” He says.
While Bellefonte’s first independent record store is indeed a work in progress, it’s off to a great start.
“My lease starts in March and because I have a real job, I spend every weekend here trying to do as much work as I can,” he said. Feist said.
He said he had done most of the work, but he did have to throw a construction company into disaster to get space wheelchairs in. They also did some work on the ceiling.
“Everything else you see — all the lights, the fans — I made it myself,” Feist said.
As far as vinyl goes, you’ll find a little bit. He bought used LPs for as little as $2. Of course, new vinyl is more expensive. If you want something Fester doesn’t have, he’ll do his best to get it.
Needless to say, Fester is excited to be part of the vinyl revival.
“There’s a gorgeous essence to an album,” Feist said. “We got rid of that, but people started appreciating the art of records, album covers … old and new. It’s all very cool.”