Dead Media now lives in Powderhorn

The volunteer-operated shop that sells records, cassette tapes and secondhand books moved into a glossy new space in the Corcoran-Powderhorn neighborhood.

Patrons browse through records on Saturday Sept. 2, at Dead Media's grand re-opening in South Minneapolis. Dead Media is a record, tape and book store that now has a performance space in the basement.

Max Ostenso

Patrons browse through records on Saturday Sept. 2, at Dead Media’s grand re-opening in South Minneapolis. Dead Media is a record, tape and book store that now has a performance space in the basement.

Haley Bennett

One might expect Dead Media to be run by a handful of dads with overlarge LP collections who started a record shop when vinyl and cassettes began to trend ten years ago, but its three owners — Simon Brooks, Walker Neudorff, and Colin Wilkinson — are young, all in their twenties. 

Why do record shops still exist in the age of music streaming apps? According to owner Simon Brooks, the answer is tangibility.

“You can’t touch or smell digital music,” Brooks said. 

Located alongside Sea Wolf Tattoo and Northern Rose Bicycles, the new Dead Media shop is narrow and neat with smooth hardwood floors. A turntable for sampling music sits in the front corner. Along the wall near the checkout counter sit carefully curated shelves of secondhand books which bring a greater variety of people into the store than music alone. After all, books are nearing dead media status themselves.

Brooks is no media purist, however. 

“Spotify is awesome and convenient; I’m not against it at all,” Brooks said. “I like to have music at hand, because I’m gonna buy it anyway. But it’s not the full experience.” 

He mentioned the copy of Neil Young’s “Harvest” that’s most familiar to him, the one his mom bought as a teenager. 

“It’s worn down, but to me, the crackles are how it’s supposed to sound. I’ve never found a copy of that record as that sounds quite as good as that one.”

Brooks’ wife Holly also has a significant hand in keeping things running. She explained the group’s start in the Seward neighborhood, selling cassettes and sharing shop space with a used book vendor and record store. Then, two years ago, Brooks, Neudorff, and Wilkinson bought the business from its original owner, and began to steer the store to their liking. 

“We didn’t expect the business to go as well as it has,” Holly Brooks said. “We don’t have to up-sell thrift store finds any more.” 

The shop has caught the wave in the resurgence of cassette decks and pressed pop. “It’s our time,” Holly Brooks said.

Record shops like this aid a sense of community. When asked what the most exciting thing to see people take home is, Neudorff said, “I enjoy it when the shop introduces customers to local artists they wouldn’t have encountered somewhere else.”

Unpretentious and wildly knowledgeable about nearly everything rolled into a deck or placed on a turntable, the owners of Dead Media treat their store with evident adoration. 

In their Seward location, they learned how to run a record store, but it was still someone else’s shop; the new store, however, is all theirs, and Dead Media is more alive than ever.

When asked if they would leave their day jobs to spend more time at the shop, all four answered, “Definitely.”