New Vinyl-Focused Shop Opening in Phoenxville

Record PlayerImage by Pexels

PHOENIXVILLE, PA — Shawn Cephas is not a newbie to vinyl records. Forever Changes, his vinyl-focused shop that opens in Phoenixville on Nov. 27 might be the new shop on the block, but as a new baby in 1971 Cephas came home from the hospital to a building that housed his family above his father’s iconic record store—Philadelphia’s King James Records.

At three years old, Shawn’s favorite song—played repeatedly on his little record player—was “Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites. Over time, his excitement for records grew as the family’s business expanded from a single shop to a small chain in Philadelphia and a distributorship that enabled Black-owned businesses to buy larger quantities of records from the label companies to get deals previously afforded only by the larger retail stores in the city and along the Main Line.

Shawn Cephas
Shawn Cephas shows photos of his first record player and his parents’ record shop in Philadelphia in the 1980s and the namesake 1960s album cover for his new Phoenixville vinyl-focused shop opening at the end of November.

Shawn says he remembers being at the store as he grew up. One of his most memorable days was in 1987 when Michael Jackson’s album “Bad” was released. “The line was a block long when we got to the shop in the morning,” he recounted. “Our Black-owned business had received fewer copies than other stores, so Dad and I hopped in the car to go find more. Like TV characters Starsky and Hutch, we drove as fast as we could all over the city. We picked up additional copies at local distributors and smaller stores, arriving back at our shop just as it was selling out after noon. The lines and frenzy kept up until about 4:00. There was less than a box left of ‘Bad’ at the end of the day. Dad said he’d never seen anything like it.”

James continued to operate the stores for 30 years until he died in 1997, leaving Shawn to close King James Records. But even after the business closed and digital music sales continued to dominate, Shawn’s passion for vinyl endured.

Two years ago, Cephas opened a pop-up vinyl shop in Phoenixville. Reminiscent of the experience at King James Records, people flipped through records and ended up talking—swapping stories about songs and sharing favorites. During the pandemic, people looking for new hobbies found that playing vinyl records was an engaging, sensory experience. “They liked looking at an album’s cover art, picking up a record, dropping the needle and listening carefully to the warm sounds before turning it over… in contrast to pressing a button and listening until realizing that they’d tuned out a while back,” said Shawn.

According to MRC Data’s 2021 U.S. Midyear Report, in the first six months of 2021, “vinyl album sales outpaced CD album sales.” The vinyl revival and Cephas’s pop-up shop experiences prompted Cephas to bring back his family’s earlier livelihood.

Cephas and his wife Anna open the doors to Forever Changes—his new store at 28 S. Main St., Phoenixville—on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27. Named after a favorite album by the 1960s psychedelic band Love, the 1,200 square-foot shop will offer a curated collection of new and used vinyl records for seasoned collectors and beginners, turntables and music-inspired local art including fine art pieces, notebooks made from vintage album covers, coasters and more. Plans include in-store performances and artist receptions.

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