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4000 Holes owner Bob Gallagher: I have ‘the best job in town – it’s my dream’

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 27, 2020

By Johnathan Curley The Spokesman-Review

When vinyl-seekers first set foot in 4000 Holes Record Store, chances are that owner Bob Gallagher will be behind the desk and doing what he’s done for the past 31 years: inspecting new releases, jotting down notes and chatting to other music lovers from behind his Lennon glasses and a face mask with the sleeves of classic albums printed across it.

“It’s always a dream ‘cause I’ve always loved record stores,” says Gallagher of owning 4000 Holes at 1610 N. Monroe St. “It’s the best job in town – it’s my dream.”

Gallagher, along with record store owners across America, are preparing for Record Store Day 2020 on Saturday. Except in the world of COVID-19, the annual event marked by limited-edition releases, rare reissues and one-of-a-kind merch will be held across three days spanning three months for the sake of socially distanced record picking.

“Record Store Day has always been a huge day for us. Had we been able to have it, it would’ve been a monster,” Gallagher said. “Usually, it’s bigger than this, but they divided it up into three separate days to ease the crowd. There’s tons (of new records). I think we have 200 separate releases, something like that. All special releases that we’ll have on Saturday.”

The Record Store Day dates are slated for Saturday, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, with Saturday’s drop featuring works from David Bowie, Gorillaz, Al Green, Billie Eilish, Judas Priest, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Thelonious Monk and recently departed legends like John Prine and Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who died at ages 73 and 91, respectively.

In all, there are an expected 500 total releases to be released across the three dates.

But the excitement for Record Store Day was preceded by an uncertain stretch of time when the future of Gallagher’s business was unknown.

Shuttering in March when coronavirus closures rattled local businesses across the country, the prospect of selling the store intensified and was only put on the back burner when mail orders started to skyrocket.

“We ended up working more than we ever did. We stepped it up, and that helped us a lot. We did really good, we came out of this thing pretty fine. Turns out we’re more essential than maybe meets the eye,” Gallagher said.

Part of that essential nature comes from just how ingrained 4000 Holes has become in the modern Spokane music scene. Even in the shop’s earliest days, Gallagher was producing and distributing work from local units like Young Brians, Fumes, Waterman’s Hollow and Small (who later became Ladybird Unition), among others, in the 1990s.

“I think it’s important for record stores to always be sort of the center of the music scene. Being a player, it just comes naturally to me,” Gallagher said. “Musicians have liked to work at record stores. There’s just something about it; it just happens automatically. We go out of our way to support local stuff. To see our music scene so strong and steady, is really great.”

Beyond the local scene, 4000 Holes has hosted visits from Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, vocalist Fred Schneider of the B-52s and in-store performances from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ian McLagan, the former Small Faces keyboardist and Rolling Stones collaborator, Raul Malo of the Mavericks and local act Marshall McLean.

Still, Gallagher makes it clear about how it has always been the community that has allowed him to live his dream.

“Spokane has been very nice to my store. It’s supported me to no end, and the people who do know about my store and come here are very nice people. It’s a special community.”

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