Uncovering Secret Record Store


I thought I knew what Secret Record Store was when I started writing this piece. I wanted to highlight its recent opening of a semi-permanent “annex” location offering hiphop records at About The Goods in McCully. This marked a definitive departure from its hitherto existence as a pop-up shop, where its crates feature an ever-rotating selection of music from every genre, available for perusing at various one-night affairs throughout Honolulu.

I decided to dig into what this new annex could mean for Hawaii’s only roaming popup music shop. I drummed up questions to send Secret’s owners John Friend and Kevin Cruze.

But when I received their response, I realized something. Something big, something important.

No, I hadn’t uncovered any real secrets. The bigger picture isn’t about the progress it’s made as the youngest record retailer on this island. (It started in February 2013, and remain one of only about three stores on the island.) The secret, it became clear, is about how John and Kevin are connecting the dots in our community.

“Secret Record Store is alive and part of the landscape of what is going on in urban Honolulu,” John explains.

Secret Record Store at Art + Flea ROGER BONG PHOTO

Secret Record Store at Art + Flea ROGER BONG PHOTO

While we don’t quite have the bustling, trendy neighborhoods other major cities enjoy, Secret Record Store recognizes the opportunities in supporting the growing, albeit sparse, cultural hubs of Honolulu. Which is why they’re perpetuating their pop-up record store experience at places like Art+Flea, Fresh Cafe, Downbeat Lounge, Marks Garage, Bevy and Kakaako Agora.

“At our first sale at ART-musicBEER (in the Chinatown Artist Lofts),” John recalls, “one customer came and struck up a conversation, and asked if we had any dubstep or breakbeats.”

John quickly procured recommendations, and within a few minutes, the customer was glued to the listening station, devouring dozens of records. “After a little while, he pulled off the headphones, smiling, and said, ‘It’s been so long since I did this. This is awesome!'”

This was the reassuring moment they were seeking out: “I just had this feeling of, yes, that’s it right there,” says John. “That’s why we’re doing this.”

And then it hit me: This is it. This the reason why I’m writing this article. Because from the beginning, it hasn’t been about the accomplishments SRS is making. It’s about their active role in our community.

I’d been seeking to solve the secret behind John and Kevin’s store. But there’s nothing to solve, really, because Secret Record Store will share its knowledge with anyone willing to pay the admittance fee: a curiosity for discovering music in the company of others.

Find the next Secret Record Store event at facebook.com/secretrecordstore.