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Legendary San Diego Record Shop Reopens For Socially-Distanced Crate-Digging

Max Rivlin-Nadler
Brendan Boyle, the owner Folk Arts Rare Records on El Cajon Boulevard, demonstrates socially-distanced record browsing on May 9, 2020.
Legendary San Diego Record Shop Reopens For Socially-Distanced Crate-Digging
Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

The music is back on outside Folk Arts Rare Records after almost two months closed. The record shop has served San Diego in various locations for over fifty years.

But the record-buying experience, usually marked by crate-digging for that rare classic, is not quite in line with social distancing guidelines handed down by the state.


So owner Brendan Boyle has devised a new way for shoppers to browse.

“We can’t have people inside the store, not yet, so everything is visual. We’re trying to recreate the experience of being in the store, but doing it on the outside of the window here and doing it in a very safe manner,” he explained.

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This intrepid reporter was looking for a soul record on this May gray afternoon, as Boyle held up records to choose from.

“If you want to stop at anytime and talk about a record, just say. 'Hey what’s that?'” he told me as he held up LP after LP.


A Temptations album caught my eye, and without ever making contact with the record, I bought it.

“We try to simulate the experience of crate-digging even though we can’t have the experience,” Boyle explained. “Part of the experience is having a conversation.”

Customers can browse records through the store’s Instagram or call ahead for curbside pickup, if they’re not quite ready for this new shopping reality.