San Antonio- When it comes to listening to music, there are a few still holding on to the way things used to be. Folks who still like to pull out an old record and hear it’s perfect imperfections. Fortunately, there are a few shops that still sell records and one of them that stuck out to us as a great stop for The Texas Bucket List, Janie’s Record Shop in San Antonio.
“I’m in a time capsule in here,” Robert Esparza said.
Six days a week, Robert opens the door to his family run business in the Alamo city. It’s a small shop off Bandera Road that specializes is a sort of media that’s bulky and easily scratched, but some people still have an itch to buy it.
“I love it,” Robert said.
It’s hard to imagine that in a world where music is available instantly, family run record store could really be successful. Turns out there is a trick up these old sleeves.
“We get skeptics that come in here and say, ‘How can you still be in business because of the technology?’” Robert said. “But when you see these people, they come I the store and they grab a record or they grab the cover, it’s like it becomes them. Holding a record in their hand, the look on their face, it’s priceless, but I see it everyday.”
Surrounded by retro records and compilations of CD’s, Robert passes along his knowledge of particular singers and sound systems with the sort of enthusiasm that would make a momma proud. Fortunately for him, that’s the boss.
“I call him my guardian angel,” Janie said.
Still rocking it out in her 90’s, Janie was born Juanita Gonzales in Laredo in 1926. She raised 14 kids and Robert is one them.
“I was the youngest of the boys,” Robert said. “I made the dozen.”
In 1985 after her youngest was officially out of the house, Janie finally did something she’d been wanting to do her whole life.
“After I raised all my children, I told my husband I’ll see what’s out there,” Janie said. “I wanna get my GED, got a business training course, worked for a doctor, and then for another company. And then opened the business. I was in the Glee Club, the band, I did a parade. I did a lot of things. …My mother used to say, ‘music is life.’”
Originally Janie’s focused on Tejano, Norteno, and Conjunto music. You’ll run into some rare records here like this Flaco and Santiago Jimenez jewel.
“This is one of the most sought after albums for either one of them,” Robert said. “It’s one of Janie’s collections.”
Over the years, the variety of vinyl expanded, and you’ll never guess who Janie’s favorite singer is.
“Lionel Richie was my idol,” Janie said. “The Commodores. Just between us. “
However, there is some music Janie doesn’t like.
“They say bad words or things like that,” Janie said.
Despite her age, Janie comes here 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. That’s after her son told her she had to take Wednesdays off.
“If it was her way, she’d be here everyday including Sunday,” Robert said. “It just keeps her young. People are amazed at her age, but my mother doesn’t look at it that way. Her mother lived to be 104, and she said that age is just a number. She… You gotta live your age. So everyone gets a label. You know, 91? It’s how you live it.”
Now, it’s not all about the music here. While you might come in to find a 45 you used to have, you’ll probably end up spending that many minutes listening to Janie tell her title track on life.
“One of the most famous sayings in Janie’s record shop is that we don’t only go to buy, we go for the conversations,” Robert said.
“If you don’t know Janie’s Record Shop in San Antonio and you happen to be a music lover and you don’t know who Janie’s is, there’s something wrong. They have to meet the woman. Once you’ve met her, she leaves an impression on you.”
Sharing in the joy of life and music with Janie is only part of the experience at this old record shop. Chances are you will find a song or album that takes you back on your own personal journey. Whether it’s a memory of a loved one or an incredible time in your life, Janie’s record shop will spin you right round to the right spot on The Texas Bucket List.
“Everyone that comes in here to buy something, they have a story, and that’s what’s amazing,” Robert said. “They all have a memory in the music that they take from here, it’s what gives them closure. They bury their hearts and souls here. I love what I do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”