Bozeman's Brand New Record Store - The Wax Museum
by Brian Ripple
Brian Ripple: What is The Wax Museum and where is it located?
Kels Koch: The basic idea of The Wax Museum is to provide folks with a place to find affordable quality used vinyl, as a lot of people are either starting a record collection for the first time or (in some cases) rebuilding one after selling their record collection in The Great Vinyl Purge of the late ‘’80s/early ’90s. Considering how expensive new vinyl is, I want to offer used vinyl at the same prices it always used to get priced at before Industry Greed took over (i.e. $2.99, $3.99, $4.99 for a lot of used records that are now commonly priced at $9-$12 at a lot of shops). I also want to provide new copies of important building block titles and artists (Elvis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Velvet Underground, Ramones, The Clash, Dead Kennedys, etc in addition to some basic jazz, soul, blues titles - mainly because - again - a lot of people are building their collections and need access to elemental music that many stores are bypassing due to their focusing on hot new releases, many of which will come and go as far as interest and “importance” are concerned.
BR: What other record stores or areas in the record industry have you previously worked at?
KK: My first record store job was at Cellophane Square in Seattle from 1990-92. Then I moved onto Austin, where I worked at ABCD’s from ‘92-’97. After coming back to Bozeman for a few months at the end of ‘97 and top of ‘98 (during which I flirted with the idea of opening up a store, but couldn’t find an affordable space), I moved onto Nashville where I worked at The Great Escape (1998-2010) and The Ernest Tubb Record Shop (2010-2013). And, of course, I DJ’ed at KGLT from 1985-1989 and I’ve been back there since my return to Montana 2 years ago. I also DJ’ed at WRVU (Vanderbilt University’s radio station) for about 10 years (including having Jello Biafra and Charlie Louvin together on our Hipbilly Jamboree radio show!) and Nashville’s new community radio station WXNA for the couple of years before my move. And I’ve played in bands in all these towns - most notably The Beat Nothings here in Bozeman in the ’80s and The Million Sellers in Austin and Nashville, releasing 6 records over the years. I’ve also helped Ron Sanchez a few times over the decades with his Donovan’s Brain project and I’ve written for the alt. country magazine No Depression.
BR: What made you decide to open The Wax Museum? ... and why did you choose to open The Wax Museum in Bozeman?
KK: Hmmm . . . well, as I stated above, I DID want to open something here back in ‘97-’98 because Bozeman HAS been my favorite of all the cities I’ve lived in and I thought then, as I do now, that it deserves a first-class, affordable and KNOWLEDGEABLE record store. Plus, it’s just nice to be back and do what I love - it’s a win-win for me!
BR: Do you do special orders?
KK: Sure! Of course, the items have to be in print and available through my distributors, but yeah - I can do special orders.
BR: What else do you carry besides wax at the wax museum?
KK: I’m really focused on just music here, although I do carry the three currently popular physical formats (vinyl, CD’s, and cassettes - new and used in all cases) in addition to shellac (78’s) and styrene (most 45’s are actually made of styrene rather than vinyl).
I understand why a lot of record stores carry other product lines (t-shirts, posters, buttons - all of which have some appeal to most music fans . . . and candles, incense, jewelry, toys - which generally don’t) - it’s because they are higher mark-up items. But with my limited space, I’m just shooting for what matters - the music! I’m getting a great deal on rent here, so I don’t have to make 200% mark-up on crap to pay rent. Lucky me!
The Wax Museum is located at 404 East Bryant Street (off N Rouse Ave.) in Bozeman, Montana. They are open Tuesdays from 1 pm-7 pm, Wednesday - Saturday from 11 pm-7 pm, and Sundays 12-4. They are closed on Mondays.