BOISE, Idaho — If you're like many of us, then most of the music you listen to today comes from a streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music. But one mainstay shop in Boise has been finding ways to keep true music lovers feeling nostalgic while introducing them to Treasure Valley-exclusive items and gifts for over four decades.
Every Boise native knows there's been one place to go to grow your vinyl collection for over 40 years now and that's the Record Exchange. But the store might not have opened if it wasn't for an unfortunate incident.
"We started in 1977. I'd been a logger up in McCall and had an accident. They paid me off and I took that money and started buying inventory for the store and built fixtures and had a little storefront up on Orchard for seven months," said Record Exchange owner Michael Bunnell.
Originally from Sacramento, Bunnell knew he wanted to do something music-related after moving to the Gem State.
"I was a longtime music fan. When I moved to the state, all I had was my stereo and my records and some clothes that were way too thin for Idaho weather," said Bunnell.
The enormous store on the corner of West Idaho and 11th Street used to be five total businesses when the Record Exchange moved in in 1978. Those spaces were all bought up by Bunnell over many years as they became available.
"We did nine expansions through the years and then finally we tore out all the ceilings and made it one store finally when I could put all the money together," said Bunnell.
When you walk inside, you'll notice it's not just a music store and coffee shop. They say they consider themselves the area's best gift shop.
"We decided, if we're going to diversify, let's just go for it. And we basically filled up the coffee shop now full of gift items and apparel and apparel accessories and crazy gifts and novelties and children's toys and we sell a lot of stuff now," said Bunnell.
And just like he intended 42 years ago when the Record Exchange was first opened, Bunnell wants people to leave the iconic store with a smile on their faces.
"It's supposed to be entertaining. This is supposed to be an entertaining store where like-minded or unlike-minded people can meet and feel comfortable," said Bunnell.
Whether you head in to find a new vinyl or CD, get a fun gift, sip on a coffee, or watch a new band perform, the Record Exchange takes the stage as one of the coolest Made in Idaho shops around.
"This community has been very good to me, I mean 42 years in, there are a lot of stores that aren’t that old and survive. Like I said, we owe a lot to the community for its support over all these years and in our own way and fashion, we try to pay back. If you live in a community, you should be actively involved in the community in one form or fashion. We wouldn’t be here without our real bosses, who are the general public, to be honest," said Bunnell.