This Saturday, we will be celebrating our 30th year in business. Stinkweeds has had 4 locations, hosted countless memorable instores, and kept a lean staff of less than 30 people…in 30 years!!!! There have been a lot of changes in those 30 years, but we’ve done our best to make sure at heart, Stinkweeds has remained the same store it was when Kimber first opened its doors in 1987. This was always meant to be a store for music lovers who maybe had a hard time finding the things they were looking for, or maybe saw the record store experience as a place to discover something new. Aside from a well curated selection, this also requires a staff, willing to help customers find new music, based on THEIR tastes. What we have found, as employees of Stinkweeds, is that this relationship is equally rewarding for us. In the process of discussing music, in the hopes of finding your new favorite band, we find that we learn just as much, if not more, from you, our customers. There are bands that I would put in my all time top 10 that were recommended by you, our customers. More importantly, there are people I would consider some of the finest I’ve ever met, that may have never crossed our paths, if not for this store. It’s a blast working for Stinkweeds. But, it’s even more fun to consider ourselves part of this diverse club of music listeners.

As you may have heard, we have a big party planned this Saturday (April 1st), and we’ve got a lot of planning and arranging to do. So, we thought we would leave the bulk of this week’s blog post to you, our dear customers. We’ve included a few testimonies from some of our loyal customers, as well as a couple of video shout outs from some friends “on the road.”

Please, feel free to share your stories in the comments below.  – Dario

From: Mike Sutcliffe

In 1988, a little record store at Guadalupe and Dobson sold me the new Billy Bragg 12-inch, a Guns ‘n Roses cassette, and a They Might Be Giants “c-dingle” (3-inch CD single). Kimber was knowledgeable about all of them and judgmental about none of them. The atmosphere of her store was all about accepting and listening to all genres, and sharing great music.

From: Nate Johnson

I’ve been going to Stinkweeds for about 9 years now. The selection is great, I’ve found about 100 used gems there, and it’s easily the best place for new releases and new “stretches” for musical tastes. But far and away the thing that makes it awesome are the chats, the recs, the Hey-what’s-happenin’ with Kimber, Lindsay , and Dario. It’s fantastic to have a record store staffed with such great, knowledgeable, friendly people. And beyond that, I’ve been bringing my now 5 and 9 year-old kids with me the past couple of years, and everyone at Stinkweeds makes a point of making them feel welcome. My kids love you guys, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have a local store repping the community so well. Props, and happy anniversary. Much love to Stinkweeds.

From: Jimmy Eat World

From: Lindsay Cates

I discovered Stinkweeds in 1993. The tiny haven stuffed with cassettes, LPs, 7″s and CDs was an eye-opener to me. A place so well-curated with with the coolest stuff and kindest staff was an alternate reality for a high school kid lost in a stupid, suburban world. Once I got my driver’s license I would sneak in as often as I could, to pick up what ever was playing on the stereo, pick up any cool 7″s I could afford and horde flyers for upcoming instores; June of 44, Helium, Blonde Redhead, Sleater Kinney, Ida. I remember hearing “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About” on the stereo and asking Kimber what it was. She told me Modest Mouse, but I was too giddy to remember what she said and brought home Mouse On Mars instead, not what I was hoping for, but still what a great discovery. And when I went away to college, I read the weekly Milkbone list and mailordered new releases off that. Kimber would handwrite me notes, swtiching out something out of stock with something she thought I might like better. Those were real “care packages” for me. And that’s basically what Stinkweeds has been for me ever since. A place to learn about all the true wonders of the world I couldn’t find anywhere else, meet my best of friends and favorite people. Today in the age of the internet, I still feel Stinkweeds is that place, to learn, be humbled and grow. Truly a community institution, I feel honored to be a part of it for the last 16 years and I hope to always have Stinkweeds a part of my life. Thanks to Kimber (and the oldschool crew of Hank, Clay and Scott) for making me a better person.

From: Mike Genz

As a youngster, I got really into music and records – punk mainly – I begged my mom to drive me out to Dobson to check this store out I had heard about. My first visit to Stinkweeds was like entering the gates of record heaven. Kimber was always so friendly, helpful and knew so much about everything she carried that I kept coming back to pick her brain on what records I should pick up next. She never steered me wrong. As years passed, my musical tastes matured mainly from what she was playing while I was shopping – I still blame her for my unhealthy obsession with Sarah Records. Stinkweeds served as a place for me to go and feel like I was always welcome. Much love and respect to Kimber and the rest of the staff (throughout the years) for being so awesome. See you at the anniversary party!

From: Marilyn Whitelaw-Rothmund

 Humongous congratulations on your Stinkweeds milestone!
I first heard about Stinkweeds when we met as guests on Jonathan L Rosen’s “Virgin Vinyl” show, Sunday nights on KEYX radio, in 1987. You used to bring
in hip discs to spin, all featuring new music.
When I started club djing at Bongo/UM Club on Mill Ave in 1988/89 you set me up with the most awesome imports from Europe, which helped me to develop my distinctive music style at that time. You always had the newest, most underground sounds I was looking for, and without your help and superb taste, well, I wouldn’t have managed half so well. I don’t know if I thanked you enough back then, and if not, I’m doing so now–thanks a billion!!
With the whole music biz changes since those days it is magnificent that your establishment is still thriving–and it has everything to do with you: You still have superb taste! And business smarts, naturally.
 Here’s to another 30 years!!!
 All my love from Switzerland,

From: Sean Bonnette (of AJJ)

From: Mark Warren

In late 1989, I was working in a record store, Music Express, in the former Christown Mall. It was mainstream, nothing very eclectic. A friend and coworker recommend I check out stinkweeds for hard to find items, import cd singles, box sets, etc. When I walked in the store I was amazed by the selection and the music they were playing. I didn’t know what to buy first. I took the 2 singles (depeche mode’s master and servant and clannad’s in a lifetime) up to the counter. There I met Kimber Lanning. She was very nice, my age and the owner, and the coolest girl I ever met. I asked her foolishly, how do you get all this cool stuff? She just smiled. It was then I saw all the boxed sets and other amazing goodies behind the counter. One of which was “weather box” by my favorite artist, David Sylvian. I asked to see it, she opened it. Inside were his 5 solo albums to date, hand painted jewel cases and discs. I asked her if she would hold it for me until next week (I was making nothing but I had to have it). “You know you can bring cds to trade,” she said. All I said was, “I didn’t know this existed…thank you”. Next week or so I was back with some trade ins and it was mine. Ever since that day, any trip to the store was special. I was even lucky enough to see Kimber’s band half string play at a show (signed copy of cd 🙂 I always felt welcomed and nearly every time I found something amazing to bring home. Times have changed, big box stores and mp3 downloads may be around, but nothing will ever replace the hometown love and passion that came from one of the most talented women in Arizona. To the next 30 years.

Matt Van Mantgem

Apart from the usual memories of browsing through the stacks, I most remember the In-stores. Strange little bands like Six Finger Satellite where they did great, but abbreviated sets- but there was one such In store show that sticks out, for me. I think it was 1995, but it may have been 1994- but Elliott Smith was playing. I hadn’t heard his solo work, but was a huge Heatmiser fan, so I was willing to give it a shot. Now, I didn’t talk very much with him, but I did exchange a “Hi” with him before the show, and it was already obvious that he was a nervous sort. So, it was a revelation watching him perform, with a beat up acoustic guitar, practically whispering the words. As his playing continued, it became equally obvious that he was having some kind of chemical help to play in front of people. He even mumbled out a butchered version of the Baudelaire quote- “One should always be drunk…”, but I couldn’t imagine a less dionysian performance. He clearly was someone who wasn’t comfortable enough to ever loosen his grip. This made it absolutely riveting. I felt like I was being read the diary of an extreme introvert, by the author, themselves. In a way, maybe I was. I don’t know if he did a “Meet & greet” before or after- if he did I don’t think I would have done it:it would have been too awkward. Of course, in the years that followed, his star rose, until it was snuffed out, but my point isn’t about Mr. Smith- it’s about the place.

Stinkweeds is the only place that could have happened. A place owned with such great knowledge and care that, of course, it’s hip to art and people years before anyone else, but only in service to such intimate human connections. I don’t know other people’s stories, but I’m willing to bet that people met and formed friendships, relationships, and partnerships in the space provided by Stinkweeds. You know that archetypal “Indie Record Store” staffed by snobs only too willing to chase off those not already in the know? Stinkweeds is the opposite of that. It’s a place where people are only too willing to share the incredible treasures they have found. I have been to an awful lot of indie record stores, all over the US, and Stinkweeds has been unique in that regard, in my experience. So, all of my memories of the place are variations on that theme- the Elliott Smith in store is only my favorite because it crystallizes, at least in my mind, that unique feeling that, here, you are always with friends, with exquisite tastes.

From: Hayley Ringle

I remember seeing so many amazing shows at the Tempe Stinkweeds, from the Delta 72 to Elliott Smith. It was so fun crowding around the CD bins to check out these bands that played for an all-ages crowd for like $5. I don’t know where my musical tastes would have been met if not for Stinkweeds!

From: William Rather

With the birth and expansion of the Internet, I noticed a shift towards purchasing records from online distros and labels versus going to physical record stores. The thing is, you develop such a better rapport and relationship with people you interact with and grow to know over a mutual obsession. The first time I went into Stinkweeds I felt at home, and it is that feeling that keeps me coming back. Crate digging and the thrill of the hunt for vinyl is part of the equation, but the other part is the relationship you form while collecting. I definitely get a sense of that at Stinkweeds, and it always keeps me coming back to check out what is new! Thanks Stinkweeds, and here is to 30 more years!

From all of us at Stinkweeds, thank you so much for your continuing support. You make this place so much more than just a record store.