This House Rocks
Nestled among buildings reminiscent of the 1930s and adorning the streets less traveled; can be found what locals in Portsmouth, Ohio know as Historic Boneyfiddle. Located on 2nd Street, Boneyfiddle is made up of several antique stores, a hardware store, a brewery, and a café. The evoked nostalgia of the area begs for the presence of a record shop, which is precisely what brothers Charlie and Travis Haskins have operated for a year. I had the pleasure of speaking with Charlie and Travis, owners of Haskins House located at 536 2nd Street in Portsmouth, Ohio, about their shop and what it’s like being a small business owner.The Haskins brothers shared that their father was an influence in opening Haskins House. Their father being a record collector, painter, and poet himself, Charlie and Travis were raised among music. Travis is the musician, giving guitar lessons and controlling inventory at the shop; while Charlie is the painter. He not only gives art lessons on Thursday nights, but creates paintings that burst with color and expression. Their business began with selling records and paintings. “There weren’t many places to show work….we were already making music and making paintings and so we had room for more.” Charlie shares, when discussing art pieces for sale and how the shop is so much more than just a record store. It has since expanded into a community effort, hosting open mic nights in their staging area in the back of their store pictured at right. These events are held every 2nd Saturday of the month at 8:00PM . This is an opportunity for Haskins House to feature a different poet or musician. They are working to create CD compilations of the local talent in order to add to the exposure.
When asked about how their inventory was acquired, Travis stated that they buy at any given opportunity and are able to obtain from a variety of sources including flea markets, yard sales, and personal collections. “We inherited a bunch of it from our father.” The brothers added. I wondered how difficult it was to obtain new inventory and not want to keep part of it; as both Travis and Charlie are collectors themselves. “I’m taking this one home today…I’m getting more selective about what I’m taking because there’s just so much.” Travis said, with a smile. I was also curious as to the demographic coming into their store. “We get anybody and everybody coming in.” Charlie states. Prices in their store vary but overall, they attempt to stay under the book to appeal to the wide range of customers they serve.
I asked what the biggest challenge had been for them as a vinyl shop in a rural area. “At first it was making people aware and working with a stereotype.” Charlie says, which is exactly why they want to branch out into anything creative or different. They also want to push local and original artists, making Haskins House a community gem. I also asked, in their opinion, what was the biggest obstacle for record stores in general. “Inventory. We’re always working on rearranging and changing this place. It’s never ending.” Charlie says.
This is true for other shops as well whom often times have so much inventory, it can’t possibly be displayed at any one time.
“How is digital music affecting the sales of vinyl, of music you can touch?” I asked. Both Charlie and Travis agree, the sale of vinyl isn’t dead and there is a surge in it’s trade. Even mainstream businesses such as Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble are beginning to handle records in small batches. “The demand is there.” Travis adds. I was eager to know what artists that Charlie and Travis hoped to find when sifting through collections. “[Bob]Dylan, Tom Waits and Jack White who is doing a lot of great things with the vinyl industry.” Say the brothers.
To say I enjoyed my time talking with Travis and Charlie is an understatement. Their efforts and dedication to revitalizing community through art and music is to be applauded. Haskins House is on the committee for the Boneyfiddle Final Friday in which a free, public concert is held on the last Friday of each month. Haskins House will be hosting artist Mark Delgado from New York and a trick or treat event, both coming in October proving that their mission for showcasing art and music is an ongoing endeavor. Travis and Charlie invite you to come see them or attend an open mic event. “We’re always looking for people that want to play.” Charlie says, leaving the open invitation for musicians to share their performance with Haskins House.
Haskins House Business Hours:
536 2nd Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662
Written By: Amanda Knight
Photos by: Amanda Knight
Feel free to follow Amanda on twitter @amandajill82