After 15 years and nearly as many moves, Spanky Guzman believes she has found her record store’s forever home.
Since moving Spanky’s and Gus to a Spokane Avenue location in Whitefish this summer, she said “I’ve never seen my business like this before.”
“It’s a really big change,” said the longtime business owner who has operated record shops, toy stores and Western gear outlets in Whitefish, Kalispell and Eureka since the early 2000s.
When the Spokane Avenue location became available, she remembered, “I saw a chance and said ‘I have to take it.’” At the time, she was operating out of the alley behind her current location, after previously moving around between Railway Street and U.S. 93 North.
“I’m pretty psyched,” she gushed, and it appears local music lovers and visitors share her excitement. “There’s been an immediate response. I didn’t expect this reaction.
“People walk in expecting it to be a typical record store,” but Guzman insisted Spanky’s and Gus is carving out its own niche in the local retail music scene.
“It’s a misconception” that her record store specializes in “really old stuff,” she explained. The record collection at Spanky’s and Gus includes “new and used records,” from The Beatles to The Black Keys. She said she works with various record labels to supply current music she described as “lo-fi,” “indie” and other categories that would bewilder the classic artists whose famous faces decorate the store’s walls.
“We have really eclectic music,” she said, including a collection of more than 1,600 LPs donated by the family of a local man who passed away last December. “They wanted to keep [the music] in the community,” she explained, and the “Paul Roecker Collection” has been one of the most popular attractions since the new store opened.
In addition to the vast music variety, Spanky’s and Gus also offers musical equipment for local musicians and performers traveling through the area. “Instrument supplies are getting really popular,” she reported.
“We’re servicing the community,” with items such as cables, percussion instruments, stands and more.
Spanky’s and Gus also offers a menagerie of unique apparel, bags, jewelry and collectibles. After more than a decade in the business, Guzman said, “I know what works. I’m trying to bring elements from all my different stores.”
Despite her lengthy career at the helm of numerous record shops, the lifelong music fan was slow to convert her love for artists like Led Zeppelin into a profession. “I’ve been a concert-goer since I was 13,” Guzman recalled. “I’ve seen just about every major icon ever.”
She didn’t turn a profit on this passion until her brother sent her a box of records to celebrate the opening of her “Cowboy Shop” in Eureka. At the time, Guzman saw little use for the gift and sold the records for a few cents each. Effectively, she said, “I threw them out. They sold super fast” and her record-selling business grew from there.
Guzman hopes it continues to grow in her new space. One of her main goals going forward is for community musicians to use a portion of the shop as an open jam area. “If people need it for practice or rehearsal, they should just call me,” she said. “I’m not asking anything for it. It’s free for the community.”
She also has plans to expand her selection of percussion instruments.
“It will be a big step when I actually place my order,” she said. “I’m going deeper into instruments than I’ve gone before.”
“I’m entertaining consigning instruments if anyone might be interested,” she added, with an emphasis on “might.” Her focus, she made clear, is to meet the needs of the local music community.
It’s this attention to the community — as well as her steadfast determination — that Guzman believes has supported her record store endeavors for so long. When she announced her recent move, she recalled someone asking her, “Are you really doing this again?”
“Sure!” Guzman responded. “Why not? You know I’m not going to give up.”
Spanky’s and Gus is located at 22 Spokane Ave., Suite A in Whitefish. The shop is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4459.