Louisville Magazine

MAR 2017

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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keeplouisvilleweird.com/egiftcard 12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.17 LIBA Partner Pages betterdaysrecords.net Ben Jones, owner of Better Days Records in Louisville, knows what it is to have a holistic and authentic life, something everyone is striving for these days. While the media, life coaches and self-help gurus are encouraging all of us to get back to simplicity and an integrated approach to career and personal life, Jones has quietly been doing it all along. "I'm a music lover and I'm a store for music lovers," Jones says. "I help people put together a soundtrack for their lives. In a way, I'm like a music minister because music heals if you let it. That's the purpose of still having a bricks and mortar store — it's a sanctuary." Better Days Records, which opened its first location on Frankfort Avenue in 1982, now has two locations — the east store at 1765 Bardstown Road and the west store at 2600 West Broadway, Suite 104. At any given time, Jones offers 25,000 to 40,000 new and used records for sale as well as 25,000-40,000 new and used CDs. The west store, also known as the "urban store," has a vast selection of R&B, soul, rap, jazz, hip-hop and gospel. The east store, also known as the "rock & roll store," offers thousands of rock & roll, pop, indie rock and jazz titles. The comfortable, intimate stores each have their own vibe and are an oasis for music enthusiasts. "These days everyone is putting personality back in their stores, but we never lost it," Jones says. "Just listening to music doesn't really shape the soul, it's about the message and the lyrics. We help customers discover new artists that speak to them. That's the invitation." Jones says he's had a passion for music and used records since he was a kid and knew that he wanted to convert his passion into a career. "Me personally, I've always been a record collector," Jones says. "I got my first record in early grade school. I used to go to antique stores with my mom and I would hunt out used 45s." Both of Jones' parents were entrepreneurs and A Conversation with Ben Jones, owner of Better Days Records By Rachel Reynolds had their own small businesses — his father was a cabinetmaker and his mother was a seamstress and wrote poetry. So it seemed natural that Jones would also have his own business born out of a spark in his soul. "I've never punched a clock in my life," Jones says. "My whole family are artists. I have eight brothers and sisters and they're all music people." Jones himself plays percussion and piano and creates a respectable tune on almost all instruments except strings. "I can't read music," Jones says. "I'm self-taught." Jones also paints — especially landscapes — using oils, acrylics, and watercolors on canvas. Unlike most people, there's not a big dividing line between his occupation and the rest of his life. There is no "career" in one place, "family" in another place, and "spiritual or soul work" in another place. For him, they all blend and intermingle and create a single whole. "If you're well-respected by your customers and well-liked by your employees behind the counter, then you have a good life," Jones says. "I don't want to have stranger after stranger coming through my door. I want to have a relationship with the people I serve. That's why we've survived even when the large record stores have gone out of business. It's because of our service to the customers we know well. That's how all stores were meant to be run." Jones says that stores don't need demographic studies, focus groups and consultants to tell them how to reach their customers. It's really much simpler than that. "It's not the hype, it's not the trends," Jones says. "You never have to believe the hype. I will only go out of business when I decide to go out of business. I will never go out of business because of the economy. I've never tried to reinvent the wheel in my business, but I do know when to change the tire. You wouldn't believe when CDs came out, everyone said that records were gone forever."

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