Sound Exchange will merge its Brandon and Pinellas Park shops to create a 6,400-square-foot “superstore” at the corner of 66th Street North and 86th Avenue North in Pinellas Park.
PINELLAS PARK – Erin Stoy was just 10 years old when her father, Ron Stoy, opened the first Sound Exchange independent record store in Tampa on North Nebraska Avenue in 1987.
Her father was tired of the corporate world, she said, and decided to go into business for himself. Sound Exchange would allow him to focus on two of his biggest passions – music and fiddling with stereo equipment.
Though she was only in elementary school at the time, her father put her to work in the store.
“He’d pull me in there to alphabetize cassettes, things like that,” she said. “Then I started working after school and during my summers off during college.”
Eventually, she went off to graduate school and moved out of state, working as an analyst at the FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.
Three years ago, though, Erin felt the pull to return to the Tampa Bay area as her father made plans for his retirement.
“He told me it was the last call,” she said. “‘Do you want to come back or not?’”
So she headed home to take on the role of marketing director and to help guide the store as her father and his business partner, Jim Butcher, step down.
The store has expanded into a small local chain of record shops since those early days.
In 1992, Ron partnered with Butcher, his long-time friend, to open a shop in Brandon. Nearly a decade later, in 2001, the pair opened a Pinellas Park location at the intersection of Park Boulevard and 49th Street.
At 5,000-square-feet, the Tampa store has always been the chain’s main location, Erin said. Pinellas Park and Brandon are each about 2,500 square feet.
But now Sound Exchange will merge its Brandon and Pinellas Park shops to create a 6,400-square-foot “superstore” at the corner of 66th Street North and 86th Avenue North.
“The new store will allow us to offer customers the same depth of selection in Pinellas County that we have provided in Hillsborough County for decades,” she said.
The store will move away from renting space and will outright own the new Pinellas Park space, Erin added.
“Moving the two stores into one made sense for a variety of reasons,” she said. “One being we wanted to move away from rental situations. It also allows us room to grow. We were always stifled by the smaller spaces. We had a limited ability to grow because we were already packed to the gills with product.”
Though they looked in various spaces throughout the county, Pinellas Park is ideal because of its central location, she said. They also found the right building “that fits our needs,” she added.
The building they purchased is actually comprised of eight separate units. Sound Exchange will combine eight of them to create the store. They will rent out the remaining two units to “a synergistic tenant,” Erin said. “Maybe a used instrument shop or someone that offers music lessons. In the meantime, we’re using it as storage.”
The Brandon shop will shut its doors in mid-September. Until then, they’re busy configuring the new space and slowly bringing over all inventory and fixtures from Brandon.
Shortly after that, likely in October, they’ll move the best product from the current Pinellas Park location to the new store.
“We plan to be open [in the current space] for the immediate future as a closeout location with lots of bargains and all the things we’ve collected over 30 years, piles developing underneath counters and records that we never processed,” Erin said. “It’s going to be a gradual thing for Pinellas Park inventory to totally make it over to the new location.”
In the meantime, Sound Exchange is on a buying spree.
“We’re encouraging everyone – now is the time to come in and sell your CDs and records and tapes and everything, because we’ve got a big space to fill up,” she said.