When Nirvana released “Nevermind” in 1991, 4000 Holes Record Store owner Bob Gallagher remembers customers waiting in the shop for UPS to deliver the album.
“We’ve never had that since,” he said. “We were selling the records right out of the box.”
He has a feeling the Aug. 30 release of Tool’s “Fear Inoculum,” the band’s first album in 13 years, might bring at least a few fans to the shop before UPS has arrived, but he’ll be prepared this time thanks to 30 years behind the counter.
4000 Holes was just two years old when “Nevermind” was released.
Since opening in 1989, the store has been the place for music fans and musicians to gather, talk shop and check out the newest releases or find a hidden (read: used) gem.
To mark the record store’s 30th anniversary, Gallagher is hosting a two-event celebration.
Beginning at 2 p.m. in the store, there will be performances from Starlite Motel (Gallagher’s band), B Young and Friends and Ball of Destruction. There also will be giveaways, snacks and more.
Later in the evening, Fat Lady, Atari Ferrari, Gorilla Rabbit and Chicken, and Blue Canoe (Gallagher’s other band) will perform at the Big Dipper.
“It’s so hard for me to believe we’ve done 30 years,” Gallagher said. “It’s a miracle in a lot of ways. Sometimes I don’t exactly know what to feel because it’s not just my success, it’s the success of Spokane.
“Supporting a record store, it’s a funny thing. Not all cities do it or can do it. I think my anniversary is more about the people who have supported us for all these years.”
4000 Holes came to be after the Comic Book Shop owner Craig Barnett turned Gallagher, a lifelong music fan who used to buy and sell Beatles memorabilia, on to an available space on West Shannon Avenue.
Shortly after, the then 37-year-old opened 4000 Holes, the name of which comes from a lyric in the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”
“It was the most thrilling thing that ever happened for me because I had always wanted a record store,” Gallagher told The Spokesman-Review last year. “I’d go into record stores with my friends, and they’d see the records and I saw church. It was much more than the individual things.”
After about four years, 4000 Holes outgrew its home on West Shannon Avenue, and Gallagher moved the shop to Monroe Street and Maxwell Avenue.
But after about 11 years there, Gallagher experienced the same problem: Too much music, not enough space. The shop has been at its current location on Monroe Street for about 16 years.
Rows and rows of carefully organized new and used CDs line the middle of the store, and, along the wall, new and used vinyl sit in record racks, crates on the floor and on-the-wall displays that reach all the way to the ceiling.
There’s also the wall covered in Beatles memorabilia and items from bands like the Doors and a note to 4000 Holes from the late Layne Staley behind the register.
Gallagher is quick to help customers find just what they’re looking for or order it if he doesn’t have it in stock. And every time someone thanks him after a purchase, Gallagher feels like he should be thanking them for supporting the shop.
Gallagher credits some of his success to Spokane’s history of having good record stores, including shops like Little Nell’s Records.
“If records are in front of you, people fall for it,” Gallagher said. “It’s vinylitis. They can’t help it.”
Over the years, Gallagher has racked up a number of memorable moments at 4000 Holes.
The first came soon after Gallagher opened the store. He didn’t know much about punk or alternative music and was planning on selling only used records.
But after customers suggested he listen to some of the bands coming out of Seattle, he was hooked and brought that music into the store.
“We opened at the perfect time for the grunge thing to happen,” he said. “And also, I’d been driving to Seattle to buy records, and when I opened my store, I found out everybody had been driving to Seattle. That was one of the big ones, just that we started off on a such a good foot right off the bat.”
The best event he’s ever hosted at the store was an in-store performance from Ian McLagan of Small Faces and Faces (he’s also worked with the Rolling Stones) after a gig in town fell through.
Gallagher remembers McLagan was bubbling with personality and took the time to chat with everyone in the store.
“He played a marvelous musical set,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a higher moment in the store.”
Gallagher also called the Mavericks’ Raúl Malo’s in-store performance a noteworthy event.
Since the inaugural event in 2008, Record Store Day also has had a big impact on 4000 Holes.
“Our last Record Store Day, I’ve never sold so many records in my life,” Gallagher said.
Though the store is in good shape, financially and with the stock it offers, Gallagher, 67, has been thinking about retirement.
Living a “music life,” Gallagher didn’t really think retirement was an option until about a year ago during a trip to visit family during which his family made him realize he had something that he could actually sell.
“It’d be nice if 4000 Holes lasted 30 more years or past me would be cool,” he said.
He hopes the new owner wouldn’t change too much about the store, and he wouldn’t mind helping out every now and then. He doesn’t know what lies ahead for him exactly, but he can’t imagine not being involved with music somehow.
“It’s been the most fun that I ever thought I would ever have, especially in a job where you actually like your job,” Gallagher said with a laugh. “That’s been the big thing for me. I always have to go back to it: the people I’ve met. I have met some wonderful, wonderful people I’ve known for years. That moves me all the time, the loyalty people have had to the record store …
“The Beatles and records have been good to me all my life. It’s been fun to spread them.”
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