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Akron's Square Records caters to the mainstream and the strange

These days, it can be hard to convince record collectors to leave the cozy confines of their home computers and turntables. The digital age has made us picky and lazy, so when David Ignizio started Akron's Square Records, he wanted to create a shop where underground, unusual, and unique music brought in curious customers.

"Records and CDs still appeal to quite a few people, and hardcore music fans are still into buying physical items, as opposed to the download thing," Ignizio says from his perch behind the register. "So when we opened, we focused on music that wasn't being covered at local stores: the music we knew people were clamoring for — the independent stuff, the experimental stuff."

Situated in the arty west side borough Highland Square, Square Records is the Rubber City's best music boutique for new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, independent labels, obscure bands, and great local artists. Ignizio and his wife, Juniper Sage, opened the shop in August 2003, investing their own record collection to launch the used bins. "At the time, it was probably 1,000 records," says Ignizio.

Today, the store's walls are covered with cool posters and old records from Akron bands like Houseguest, indie acts like Thee Oh Sees, and classics like Miles Davis and the Stooges. A little exploring yields loads of new and used CDs and vinyl. In the back, there's a 200-square-foot gallery space that celebrates local artwork and music from live bands — especially in the summer.

"The gallery has proven to be very good not only for our business, but mostly for creating relationships with various artists and musicians in the area," says Ignizio. "Each time we have an art opening or a live concert, it brings in a different crowd, many of whom have not set foot in our store before."

And the crowds continue to grow. At first, Square Records thrived because it served a unique niche, but it continues to prosper these days because Ignizio understands his customers' evolving interests, which range from the traditional to the strange.

"Things have changed over the years, so we've adapted to the tastes of the people in this neighborhood," he says. "It's pretty wide-ranging — like I had a lot of customers looking for modern Americana records. When we first opened, we were basically underground punk records and indie labels. We still cater a lot to that, but we've probably gotten weirder and more mainstream simultaneously."

More by Keith Gribbins

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