Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Rat Hole Record Store fills needs for Riverside and Inland Empire music fans in Southern California

photo: John Valenzuela/SCNG
With so many people buying special edition vinyl LPs over the weekend on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, I thought it was a good time to post my article here...

Local music aficionados have a new place to pore through used LP bins in their never-ending quest for rare titles.

Nestled behind Riverside Appliance and adjacent to the Galleria at Tyler, The Rat Hole is packed with new and used vinyl albums, 45 rpm vinyl singles, CDs, cassettes, DVDs, T-shirts, stickers, buttons and entertainment posters. It sells stereo equipment and has a listening station. Customers also can inquire about the store’s “hidden” LP area.

“We stock a little bit of everything, with an emphasis on funk and alternative music,” said Chris Seiber, the manager. “We [also] get a lot of jazz and rap.”

People arrive daily with collections to sell; some are taken on consignment.

According to Nielsen Music, new vinyl album sales were up 14.6 percent in 2018 over the previous year, marking 13 straight years of growth. And the first half of 2019 gained an even more impressive 18 percent. Rock and deep catalog music lead the pack, with more than 40 percent of the total sold at independent record shops like The Rat Hole.

Lately, many music consumers prefer streaming platforms to physical product. Still, the vinyl resurgence that began in the mid- 2000s “has definitely been a big help overall,” Seiber said. “We specialize in LPs. One of our avenues is rare, hard-to-find, limited edition and out-of-print records. That’s what people like about us.”

Record enthusiasts believe originals sound better compared to the new vinyl being pressed today, Seiber explained, because new pressings frequently use recycled materials inside the vinyl. “Back in the day, original pressings were 100 percent plastic analog to vinyl. With a good enough sound system, you can easily hear the difference — it’s a totally different ballgame.

While Mad Platter, a mainstay near UCR, is a competitor, Seiber takes a “more the merrier” attitude as two record stores can easily co-exist in a city the size of Riverside.

The Rat Hole
Where: 10015 Magnolia Ave., No. 2, Riverside
Social media: Instagram @theratholerecords;
Information: 951-324-1303,

A version of this story originally appeared in the fall 2019 issue of Riverside Magazine and the Press Enterprise newspaper.

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