Keenan Foraker of Silverton left, browses through CDs at Ranch Records' going out of business sale on Wednesday, July 1. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Kit and Lori Close planned to buy and sell records in downtown Salem for two more years.

When 2022 arrived, Ranch Records would celebrate its 40th year in business and then close.

Covid accelerated those plans.

Ranch Records, located at 237 High St. N.E., is conducting a going-out-of-business sale. When the last record sells, which Lori Close says might take a month or more, the doors of the iconic shop will shut forever.

Vinyl fans in Salem are bereft.

"The comments and the outpouring of love, people who seem heartbroken, it's just…. Wow," Lori said. "We knew people were going to miss the store, but we didn't quite know that it would be like this."

Lines to get in stretch around the block as people from Salem, Portland, and Seattle stop in to express their thanks, wish the Close family farewell, and perhaps pick up an album, poster, or piece of rock memorabilia.

"We've had a constant line during the hours we're open," Lori said. "Some people are waiting an hour or an hour and a half to get in."

It's a fitting tribute for a shop that's been part of Salem for so many years.

Lori joined the Ranch Records team in 2001. She grew up spending time in the shop as a teenager, and reconnected with Kit through mutual friends years later. She's well-versed in the history of her husband's work and the shop they share. 

The first iteration of Ranch Records was on Court Street, in a spot owned by Casey Campbell of Casey's Café. Campbell also owned the Star Spangled Hot Dog company, a food cart specializing in hot dogs for the lunch hour. When the rush ended, Kit would wheel the cart behind a curtain in his record store.

"After that, for the rest of the afternoon, it just smelled like hot dogs," Lori said.

Kit ran the shop during the day, and he worked bartending and waiter jobs at night. Collecting was his passion, Lori said. Owning a shop made collecting easier.

"Kit was thrilled to buy record collections. That's why he started the business - so people would bring him records. He never really thought it would become a business," she said.

But his collection grew, and so did his customer base. During the next 10 years, he moved to bigger spaces to accommodate the crowds and inventory, before landing in his current location about 12 years ago.

"We knew records were really coming back when parents were bringing in their 4-year-old kids to buy their first Beatles record," she said. "That's when we really knew records had gone mainstream."

The shop changed too. The Closes thought they could focus exclusively on alt and classic rock, but younger shoppers demanded vinyl from new groups, including Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift. The shop responded accordingly.

But Close said she had to counsel her young customers on how to take care of their purchases.

"Records are not quick. They take awhile. They take patience. For some people, patience is really hard. There's always a particular type of kid that comes in and has patience for records, an old-soul kid," she said. "But I'd have to remind them to think of your records like a puppy dog. Would you keep your puppy dog in a hot car with the windows rolled up? Records are the same."

Lori said she'll miss her regular customers.

"When you're in business for 38 years, you meet a lot of people. I don't know a lot of names, but when I see a face, I know them," she said.

She often gives customers nicknames based on the items they collect, such as The Nirvana Guy and the Beatles Coin Guy.

Lori said she plans to stay in the vinyl business in some form after turning off the lights at Ranch Records.

"Both of us like the wheeling and dealing part. Both of us love buying and selling, and that's just not going to stop. We need outlets," she said.

The Closes rent space within Engelberg Antiks to sell records, and they plan to continue. They may scout other locations for vinyl sales, including some on the coast. But they plan to enjoy retirement in Salem, and they bought a cabin on the Oregon coast. But for now, they're focused on closing up their Salem storefront.

"Once we finally get the store closed down, we can concentrate on other things. Right now, it's just insanely busy," she said.

"We've sold a lot of the cabinets already, and we've sold some inventory. But we've closed down branches before, and it's always a process that takes longer than you'd think. There's so much stuff," she said.

Plenty of gems remain for collectors and music enthusiasts, Lori said. A case of items from Salem concert promoter Ed Dougherty, two original Elvis Presley 45s from Sun Records, and a drum head autographed by Ringo Starr are all still available, she said.

The full closure might take a month or so, she said. Collectors can follow Ranch Records on Facebook for announcements about the final date.

"We'll keep pushing stuff out, and then it'll become clear. We'll realize we're a week away from no inventory," she said.

For now, Ranch Records is open from Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 pm. Ten shoppers are allowed in the store at a time, and everyone must wear a mask. Call (503) 362-8515 to skip the lines and make a private appointment to browse.

Kit and Lori Close work behind the counter during Ranch Records' going out of business sale on Wednesday, July 1. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Robert Hoffman peruses the merchandise during Ranch Records' going out of business sale on Wednesday, July 1. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Kit and Lori Close wear their new Devo-inspired face shields during Ranch Records' going out of business sale on Wednesday, July 1. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Ranch Records in downtown Salem is holding a going out of business sale after 38 years in business. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Ranch Records in downtown Salem is holding a going out of business sale after 38 years in business. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

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