Each week, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.
If you’re into rare vinyl, punk music, and a truly diverse selection, Hits and Misses Records in Toronto, Canada is the place to be. Owner Peter Genest is a veteran of the record-store scene, having opened shops in Portland and Seattle in the ’90s before making the move up to Toronto. We spoke with Genest to see how the Canadian metropolis stacks up against his former Pacific Northwest haunts, and to find out which records the store has been spinning the most lately.
Which albums has your store sold the most over the past month?
Hands down, the OFF! box set
The first two Discharge LPs reissued on vinyl
The Forgetters: s/t double 7″
Urban Blight: Total War 7″ (local hardcore band)
The Cramps: Memphis Poseurs
The Parting Gifts: Strychnine Dandelion
White Wires: WW II
Cocksparrer: Shock Troops reissue
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Heart In Your Heartbreak 7″
Iron Lung: Life. Iron Lung. Death.
What are some of your favorite new records?
The Queers: Back To The Basement
Wheels On Fire: Liar Liar
Motörhead: The World Is Yours
OFF!: s/t box set
Protex: Strange Obsessions
Ceremony: Rohnert Park
Demon’s Claws: The Defrosting Of…
Nine Pound Hammer: Country Classics
What are the origins of Hits and Misses?
Hits and Misses was opened in May of 2007. It was opened upon my move back to Toronto after 25+ years of living in the US. In November of 2010, Hits and Misses changed locations from a dead street to a vibrant street.
I started my first store in Portland, Oregon in 1992, and it was called Roundhouse Records. I had that for four years, but in 1996 I moved to Seattle, Washington and opened up Singles Going Steady. I was the owner of Singles for 10 years, and was lucky to find someone to buy some of the stock and take it over, and it still remains open today — which is a good thing for the people of Seattle.
What does the store do particularly well — specialty genres or formats?
We carry mostly punk, metal, hardcore, crust, garage, and indie genres. My stores have always leaned heavily on the vinyl, both new and used. Even in the mid- to late ’90s, I still stocked lots of vinyl. [We have] probably one of the biggest selections in North America for new and used punk and indie seven-inches. It comes and goes, but [we] try and always have some great, rare punk collectibles on the wall.
How would you describe the music scene in Toronto? It seems like it has a ton of record stores.
Having just moved back less than four years ago, I am not an expert on the music scene, but do have some input on it. The scene doesn’t seem too tight-knit like Portland’s or Seattle’s scenes. It seems more trendy and kind of competitive and very spread out.
It took me about two years or so to figure out what the problem is here, and that is the free weekly magazines. There are two here in Toronto. One tries, but is very limited on what it covers, and the other is an atrocity. They don’t support anything underground or new. I have been told that they have been that way for years and years, so it makes sense that the scene is so screwed up at times. In Portland and Seattle, at least one of the two weekly mags really tries to help out the underground scene, whether it be punk, metal, garage, crust, whatever.
There are about 10 or so good stores worth checking out if you ever make up to Toronto. So I would say a fair amount, yes.
Any big future plans for the store?
Having just moved to a better location, there will be lots of change for the store. More business will mean more distributors, more stock, and being able to add to some of the existing stock (i.e. T-shirts, buttons, patches, etc.). In this day and age, just keeping up on new releases and keeping the electricity on are accomplishments for a mom-and-pop record store. So keep supporting your local record store, kids!
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