150 Boise Icons: Record Exchange

awebb@idahostatesman.comApril 19, 2013 

0103 local bunnell

Did you know? Record Exchange owner Michael Bunnell, executive director of the Coalition of Independent Record Stores, was one of the founders of National Record Store Day. Bunnell and the other founders will receive an Independent Spirit Award from the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in May.

KATHERINE JONES — Idaho Statesman file Buy Photo

To give you a sense of how long this Boise cultural icon has been around, when owner Michael Bunnell opened the store in 1977, Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night," Andy Gibb's "I Just Want to be Your Everything" and the Emotions' "Best of my Love," were among the most popular songs in America.

The Record Exchange did a brief stint in a small shopping mall on Orchard, then moved Downtown to the Hitchcock Building at the corner of 11th and Idaho, where it's been ever since. Bunnell, who co-owns the store with Jil Sevy, his wife, opened satellite stores through the years, but for many years, the nerve center of the Record Exchange has been Downtown in its distinctive building painted with evil birds and mendhi-style blooms.

All through the city's revitalization in the 1970s and '80s - when the city's core was so desolate and inhospitable that some likened it to a "free fire zone" - the Record Exchange provided a haven of life and color, "doing our thing somewhat doggedly," said longtime manager John O'Neil.

The store originally occupied a thin sliver of the nearly 100-year-old Hitchcock Building (that's the reason for the birds, an homage to the Alfred Hitchcock film).

Nine expansions later, it stretches the block. It continues to build its clientele, including young indie rock lovers who aren't old enough to get into live shows next door at Neurolux. Record Exchange offers free, up-close concert samplers.

The shop also caters to vinyl fans. Bunnell has switched out some of his CD racks for record racks. Like the in-store rock shows, the appeal of vinyl isn't limited to a certain demographic.

"People love the ritual. You have to be present to listen to vinyl," said Bunnell.

"And these days, you're not a real band if you don't have a vinyl release."

Note: National Record Store Day is Saturday, April 20. Record Exchange, 1105 W. Idaho St., is hosting special events beginning Friday, April 19, including a listening party with free beer, raffle prizes and more, 6 to 8 p.m. Festivities pick up again Saturday morning with exclusive releases, free donuts, and coffee and a food truck rally from 4 to 8 p.m.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service

Top Jobs

View All

Find a Home

$159,900 Boise
3 bed, 2 full bath. You’ll love living in the coveted...

Find a Car

Search New Cars