Vinyl Stop turns up the music


Ohana Sarvotham

Steve Fenske recently opened Vinyl Stop to create a musical hub in the Grinnell community.

Kailee Shermak, Staff Writer

A new record store, Vinyl Stop, has opened in downtown Grinnell, with owner Steve Fenske aiming to provide a musical hub for the community with a focus on older mediums of music. 

On Feb. 3, Steve Fenske opened Vinyl Stop’s doors for the first time. The store is located at 831 Broad St., just a 15-minute walk from campus. Past the doors, you can find vintage album covers hanging from the walls that watch over customers sifting through records, accompanied by the sound of records playing. 

Beyond the appreciation of older forms of media, Fenske said he has a broader purpose in mind for the Vinyl Stop. He said he is placing emphasis on making the store the meeting place of peoples’s lives within the context of music.

“I hope it’s a place that people can come and find a common ground. Music is something that joins us all. I feel like we can get past other boundaries and connect with music in one way or another,” Fenske said.

In a place dedicated to people experiencing encounters with each other, memories are bound to form. Fenske said he views these moments as crucial to the overarching goal of his store.

I’ve always thought that I can inspire some sort of memory. Hopefully they’re good, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if they’re not. I kind of like to say memories are free here.

— Steve Fenske, owner of Vinyl Stop

Fenske said Vinyl Stop is the culmination of the love for music that has followed him throughout his life. He said this love has been expressed in numerous ways, with Vinyl Stop being his most recent endeavor. Fenske said he initially satisfied this passion through broadcasting school and radio station jobs in the 1990s. 

The radio line of work brought Fenske to a station in Perry, Iowa that maintained a mobile DJ service that he dabbled in. Flash-forward 20 years and Fenske has DJed weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties, but something was still missing. 

Fenske briefly worked with the owner of Wax Xtatic, John Blabaum, in Marshalltown, and he learned the basic inner workings of a record store from Blabaum as a starting point.

“I just finally decided I want to have a job that I love,” Fenske said about the career transitions throughout his life, most recently from  DJ to record store owner.

Fenske’s DJ career weathered the switch to digital music, which created his unique perspective on different mediums of music. As a homage to Fenske’s earlier work, many of the CDs from his gigs are for sale in the shop. 

He said the ease of digital music was appealing for the sake of his DJ gigs, but he maintains a love for the physicality of vinyl records. Fenske said the resurgence of vinyl and this tangible experience are key components of his store.

“It’s a totally different type of engagement when you have something physical in your hands, that you can hold and look at a 12-inch piece of art,” Fenske said. “When you drop that needle on the record, there’s a whole thing to the sounds. The crackle, that’s okay.”

Though the Vinyl Stop is officially open and Fenske has had some mentoring from Blabaum on how to curate a successful record shop, he said he is excited to see how the space will adapt over time.