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Lacey, Ruben & Chuy snuggled up inside of the Gold Van Records van. Photo by Rachel Belle.

Gold Van Records: Seattle's Newest Record Store Is On Wheels

The door to the gold, 1987 Mitsubishi LS Delica minivan slides open to reveal a blissfully tacky, metallic gold streamer, metallic gold tassel encrusted music den. The bench seat is draped with gold lamé fabric, and a white shag rug lays across the floor. The cutest accessory of all? A Pomeranian named Chuy Pancake. Welcome to Seattle's newest record store, Gold Van Records.

"A mobile, new and used record store," says co-owner Lacey Swain.

It's like a food truck, but no food, just records.

"The guy that sold it to us said it used to be an ice cream truck," says co-owner Ruben Mendez. "So we thought it would be cool to use it like an ice cream truck, but sell records out of it instead of ice cream."

Lacy Swain is head of licensing at Seattle's iconic Subpop Records and her husband, Ruben Mendez, works at Seattle music label Hardly Art.

"Ruben used to work at Sonic Boom for a long time and he was a record buyer. He really missed being able to buy these small press records from smaller labels around the country. Now that he's gone, nobody in town is carrying this stuff anymore. It was all him."

They carry lots of local bands and pretty obscure stuff from around the world.

"Like the La Luz cassette tape. They're playing it on KEXP now, but right now there are no more. But I have it. If someone said, 'Oh, I like really produced pop music,' I would suggest this Lost Animal record. This fellow from Australia."

For those, slightly less record nerdy, who don't spend their Sundays digging through the stacks at record stores, Lacey and Rubin sell used vinyl from their own, massive collection. Everything from the Rolling Stones to The Sonics; punk, rock and roll, country and everything in between.

Lacey's had a longtime dream of owning a mini van like this one, so when the couple bought it off Craigslist last summer, they might have made a rash decision.

"It still needs a lot of work," Lacey said. "Like, I have to unplug the battery when we stop. Hopefully it will start when we're done [with this interview]. The first time we took it out we had to get a jump from a limo. When we first cleaned it out, there was a actually a plant growing on the floorboard down there. A seed had sprouted."

Lacey and Rubin are just getting started with Gold Van Records, but they plan on setting up shop at festivals and outside of various shops and venues.

"On any given weekend we could go to Pike/Pine area where thetr are a bunch of shows happening, tailor our used stock to whatever shows are going on. Just kind of hang out and invite people in," Lacey said.

Rubin tipped me off to a great artist named Charlie Tweedle and the album "Midnight Plow Boy."

"A lot of the really good record stores are no longer. This is a place I would most compare to Fall Out Records, where you had a guy working there, Tim, that was really passionate about the music he was selling. He knew what you liked and he could suggest stuff to you. That's just totally missing these days."

Gold Van Records will be out in Capitol Hill this weekend. You can find their whereabouts by following them on Twitter or subscribe to their newsletter by emailing goldvanrecords@gmail.com.

Rachel Belle, Ron and Don Show Reporter
Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of Ring My Belle Weekends (Saturdays at 5pm and Sundays at 3pm).
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