Superior Elevation, a new record shop specializing in disco, soul and house vinyl, has opened in Brooklyn.
The man behind the store, Tom Noble, has a record store pedigree spanning back to the turn of the century, when he opened up Minneapolis retail outlet Lotus Land with his brother. After leaving Minnesota for LA, Noble started releasing and dealing records online under the name Superior Elevation. Last year, he signed an EP to Beats In Space under the moniker House Of Spirits. We spoke with Noble about where he's coming from and what he hopes to accomplish with the new shop.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of Superior Elevation and your history with record stores in general?
My history with record stores began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2001. My brother, a partner & I started up Lotus Land Records. We were focused on getting cool reissues, mainly reggae & french pop. Kind of like a mini-Dusty Groove for Milwaukee. Our landlord gave us the idea to open cause we had too many records in our house and the shop was in a store space connected to our house—was pretty easy. As our record collecting & tastes changed we soon began tracking down rare soul and funk collections, and eventually the artists themselves. We got really good at that and soon started a reissue label of the same name.
The focus was to branch out from the world of deep funk (which the whole world was then into) and explore the pre-disco vibes of modern soul. Eventually I left the shop but continued the label out in LA. I retreated into the world of internet sales, which was nice because you could go to the beach everyday and make music at night, with less hassles and responsibilities. Soon after my brother's band was getting busy and he decided that we should end the label. This is where Superior Elevation began, [in] 2010. I decided to keep reissuing stuff under that name, going solo. My wife Ellen and I then decided to join forces and go hard with the business, mainly so that we could go to Europe and chill for a while. But when we got back the hustle never stopped and we found ourselves liking the idea of moving to NYC and going hard there. I was never too wild about living in NYC but having gigged here a few times I was blown away by how quick Brooklyn became the shit and figured we could do it.
Why did you decide to make the jump into brick and mortar now in 2015?
The move to having a physical shop again was easy. With the invention of pricing websites and globalized prices for rare records, the rare record market is shrinking—yet at the same time the non-rare record market is growing, so it's a hell of a lot easier to find common records than the rare records which are actually getting cheaper anyway. Starting a shop just makes a hell of a lot of sense, and it's fun.
What does SE offer that other boutique record shops do not?
We are going to do our best to have as much fun with the shop as possible. That alone is pretty different than most record shops. We have a pretty loose space and we can host cool DJs on weekends. We will have a Soundcloud page up with archives from our instore gigs. You're gonna see a lot of rad DJs there. From local yokel NYC peeps to world traveling hot-shots (wink wink). As for material and stock, we are going to be stocking the shelves with loads of the finest wax you can find in NYC—tons of killer disco and boogie, pretty much every song Larry Levan ever played and more will be there on any given day. [We'll also have] tons of house and we plan to just keep expanding the dance 12-inch section as often as possible. Then your usual garden variety of music, soul and funk LPs, good jazz, a fat reggae section as well as some nice International stuff.Superior Elevation opened on Record Store Day, April 18th with a grand opening party featuring Justin Strauss, Eli from Soul Clap and others. The shop is located in the Bushwick neighborhood, at 100 White St, Brooklyn, New York 10013.