In downtown Lafayette, La., independent record store Lagniappe Records is known across the region and country for its impeccably organized new and used vinyl. The Louisiana-born small business features a collection of more than 10,000 new and high quality used records, turntables, speakers and other items. The enterprise is the brainchild of husband-wife team Patrick Hodgkins and Tess Brunet, two former musicians who each grew up with a love for vinyl.
“Every city we were ever in, we’d visit the local record store,” says Brunet, who once worked at notable record shops, Waterloo Records and Video in Austin, Amoeba Music in Hollywood and Schoolkids Records’ former location in Athens, Georgia. “Records and record stores were always our world.”
It made sense that after years of exhausting touring, Brunet and Hodgkins would open a record store, launching Lagniappe Records in Baton Rouge in 2013. Two years after opening, the store’s location in the Beauregard Town neighborhood had to undergo extensive repairs, causing a subsequent rent hike that the couple could not afford. Brunet and Hodgkins looked around for a new location for their mom-and-pop store, and ended up finding the perfect spot 50 minutes away in nearby Lafayette. In 2015, they moved into a storefront on Jefferson Street in the city’s downtown.
It ended up being a good move. Lafayette, a city known for its rich music and festival scene, embraced the store. “It filled a need,” says Brunet. “There hadn’t been an independent record store in Lafayette for more than 13 years.” Fans from Baton Rouge also continued to visit. And, the couple’s extensive music knowledge and their keen curatorial eye helped draw vinyl aficionados from around the country.
“We get a lot of customers from other places who stop in and tell us what a great selection we have,” says Brunet. “A lot of work goes into making sure people have a good experience when they come in.”
Brunet is in charge of procuring new selections, a tedious and time-consuming challenge that involves poring over weekly catalogues of new releases, which today are more voluminous than ever as record companies continue to turn out more and more vinyl. She looks at thousands of titles a month, going through them with a fine-toothed comb to choose a balanced combination of records local consumers like and new discoveries that Brunet, a former drummer, finds through hours of listening.
The store sources used records from individuals who have collections to sell. Brunet and Hodgkins examine each piece carefully, taking only good quality items.
“We meticulously clean and play-grade everything,” says Brunet. “A great deal of time, energy and resources has gone into the records before they even get to the floor. People have come to know that about us, that when they get their records home, they’re not scratched and they’re going to sound great.”
Lagniappe Records features a listening station where customers can sample tunes before buying them. The store is an authorized Audio Technica dealer and it has a variety of quality Audio Technica turntables across a number of price ranges. It also exclusively carries PreSonus speakers, which are made in Baton Rouge.
“We tested a lot of speakers, and PreSonus was far and away the best to use,” says Brunet.
Their location in downtown Lafayette has continued to grow up around them, with Jefferson Street welcoming new ventures like Dat Dog, Reve Coffee and a handful of other businesses and new developments. A grocery store called Handy Stop Market and Café is also forthcoming on the street and will be downtown Lafayette’s first grocery store.
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