Interview with Lavender Vinyl’s Kye Hallows

Lavender Vinyl is Ogden, Utah’s best place to get music both new and old. This record shop was started by Kye Hallows and Blake Lundell. Before venturing into business together they had met while working at Graywhale. Drawing from years of working in that field, the two of them sought to create something unique in Ogden. The result was a shop becoming home to the cities music enthusiasts and more importantly Ogden’s queer community. Since opening their doors in July 2016, Lavender Vinyl has expanded their operations to several coffee shops. These include presences at Split Leaf Coffee in Bountiful and Grounds For Coffee location in Logan. Lavender Vinyl also participates at Lighthouse Lounge for weekly Wednesday vinyl night.

The shop is a safe space and attracts anyone looking to peruse and be exposed to a wide range of music. Within Lavender Vinyls walls are alphabetically organized rows of records celebrating genres like rock n’roll, pop, punk, glam, soul, jazz and much more. Record prices in Lavender are fair and seemingly vary depending on year, pressing and condition. Lavender Vinyl certainly boasts well known titles and solid reissues, like the Sparks Self-Titled 2016 re-release. However hidden among the rows are certain gems that are harder to find. Of particular note is a copy of The Move’s 1968 original self-titled nestled in among M’s for a cool cnote. That being said, there are plenty of treasures for shoppers can come across at a good deal. The trick is to take the time to go through the rows of records. Those who do will certainly be glad they did.

As a queer owned business, Lavender Vinyl strives to support the LGBTQ community. Lavender Vinyl has also sought to raise awareness of the increasingly violent and intolerant policies toward the transgender community. This was especially evident when the restrictive bill HB 257 which was introduced and then signed into law by Utah’s Governor Cox during the 2024 legislative session. One way Lavender Vinyl rallied was partnering with local artist Transfigure Print Co to sell shirts labeled “ Protect Trans Folks” to show opposition to the bill. Although HB 257 passed, Lavender Vinyl operates as a beacon showing solidarity for LGBTQ community. This includes assisting those feeling unwelcome, alone or isolated during the holidays. During November 2023 Lavender Vinyl offered a tab via the “free coffee for Trans and gender nonconforming friends” event at Ogden’s Grounds For Coffee. This kind of activism has contributed essential boost for those in the LGBTQ community, especially during these heavy times.

For more about Lavender Vinyl, I sat down with Kye Harrows. We talked about Lavender Vinyls beginnings, challenges, operating a safe space for the LGBTQ community and more. Check out our conversation below.

NixBeat: Lavender Vinyl is a queer owned record shop located on the historic 25th Street in Ogden Utah. They opened their doors on July 2nd , 2016. What prompted you to create Lavender Vinyl?

Kye Hallows: Blake and I have both been working in record stores since the mid 2000’s. We met and formed a friendship while working at Graywhale and worked there together for many years. I moved from Ogden to St. Louis where I worked at Vintage Vinyl, while Blake stayed here in Utah on a management team. When I moved back after a short time, we both felt like it was our best opportunity to continue working in our dream field, if we could go into business for ourselves. Record stores have truly been where we grew up and grew into adults and have also been havens for ‘weirdo’ community. We wanted to make our own slice of weird that uplifts our community and others like us.

NixBeat: Since opening your doors, Lavender Vinyl has become a mainstay for Ogden’s music community. What kind of clientele does Lavender Vinyl attract?

Kye Hallows: I truly love the diversity of our customers. We have a lot of young people getting into their first collections and their first setups — but we also have folks in our parents’ age groups (60’s and 70’s!). In the past many record stores have had a vibe that it’s a guy’s world ,and I completely disagree with that. We have so many women who shop with us ,as well as men and gender conforming people. As a trans person myself, I absolutely love that we attract a queer crowd- we say we’re a safe space and we mean it. I see that in our clientele and it’s very fulfilling for me as a shop owner because record stores are where I felt the safest and most able to express myself. I love that we can contribute to an environment like that in our community.

NixBeat: What kind of records does are you looking to purchase for Lavender Vinyl?

Kye Hallows: We purchase a bit of everything and although I’m absolutely biased I feel like we do a good job of stocking offerings from most genres. The section I’m most proud of (and that we’re kinda known for) is our jazz selection. We’re both huge jazz fans, and it’s such a vast genre with never ending discoveries. I wish we had better access to reggae records-I love that genre, and don’t see hardly any here in Utah.

NixBeat: What kind of challenges has Lavender Vinyl faced since opening it’s doors?

Kye Hallows: I think the biggest challenges we’ve faced are pretty common ones for small business owners. It’s a delicate dance figuring out the best way to maximize hours and responsibilities with also being able to pay a livable salary to yourself and continue to invest in the business. That took us quite a long time to figure out the balance, and it’s an ever evolving process. We also made it through the COVID outbreak of 2020 and the years following- and we had to pivot a lot on how we did business in order to survive through that time. It’s always challenging to have the total burden of responsibility that’s much different when it’s your own business than it is as an employee — but that being said, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

NixBeat: On November 23rd , Lavender Vinyl provided free coffee for Trans and gender nonconforming friends. This meant participants could go to Grounds For Coffee and get a drink of Lavenders tab. What inspired you to participate in this form of outreach?

Kye Hallows: November is the month that holds Trans Day of Remembrance which is to honor our trans sisters and brothers who have blazed ahead and likely who have prematurely died in the fight due to violence. November of 2023 was also personally a super depressing time for me as a person of trans identity. There was so much in the news about murders of trans people, varying violence against our community, and constant political assault nationally and right here in the Beehive State. In conjunction with Lavender Vinyl we also publish a queer arts zine called The LQ which is where we channel a lot of our queer community outreach efforts. We have a large network of LGBTQ creators and friends and in an effort to uplift all of us — myself included— we decided to offer a little moment of joy for our friends. The holidays can be hard especially on queer folks who feel ousted from their origin families, and we just wanted to show a little display of love and togetherness. This was all the more amazing to me when the local mixed martial arts gym stepped up and covered the entire tab — which we had fundraised and were able to put back into our zine and artist contributors.

NixBeat: On January 23rd 2024, Lavender Vinyl posted on Instagram a declaration against the HB 257 bill going through the Utah state legislature. HB 257 seeks to severely restrict the ability to use restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms for those who are transgender. These restrictions even include criminal penalties. On January 30th 2024 Governor Spencer Cox signed the bill in law. . In your post Lavender Vinyl partnered with transfigure print co to sell shirts with “ Protect Trans Folks” prints to show solidarity with the transgender community. What more can be done to show support with the transgender community and oppose this law?

Kye Hallows: I think first and foremost people need to get educated on what these bills are and what demographic they really affect. The fact that politicians even have the public’s attention casted towards these types of “issues” would be laughable if it wasn’t so damaging to human lives. Statistics don’t line up. Assaults happening in public restrooms aren’t committed by trans people, and also politicians seem to forget about the trans men side of this new legislation. According to the policy I can’t use the restroom marked M in a public facility. I know not everyone reading this can see me, but I have a beard, a very male build and I’m sure I would be making much more of a scene using a “women’s” restroom than the one that matches my presentation. As far as opposing the law, the bill has passed and we need to tell Utah we aren’t okay with this. Contact your location’s school board and ask them how they’re protecting their trans and gender non conforming students amidst this new legislation. Show up and support the trans people in your lives, because honestly no we’re not okay, and again read up on the issues, the bills, the reasons why they’re being introduced and I guarantee you that you can see right through them. Do something everyday to support the trans and queer people in your lives.

NixBeat: Lavender Vinyl also has a presence at the Grounds For Coffee location in Logan, Utah. How did you get involved out there and is the clientele different from your main location?

Kye Hallows: Yay! Yes we do, and we also have a presence at Split Leaf Coffee in Bountiful, Utah. We have a long coffee history and absolutely love our coffee shop partners. What’s better than a cup a joe and perusing albums?! Blake and I are good friends with Sadie who is the owner of Grounds in Ogden and in Logan. The team up just made perfect sense- we’re neighbors in Ogden and shopmates in Logan. We’re thrilled to offer a small chunk of Lavender Vinyl up south in Bountiful and further North in Logan so we can bring albums to all. The coffee shop environment is a welcomed accompaniment to album enjoyment!

NixBeat: Lavender Vinyl also contributes to events around Ogden. On December 13, 2023 Lavender Vinyl and Lighthouse Lounge teamed up to do a vinyl sale and swap night. What inspired this idea and how did this event turn out?

Kye Hallows: This was a holiday version of our Salty Lavender Record Market that we do in September each year with Salt N Hops beer store. This event came as a creation to support a bunch of local businesses at once. We have friends who run and own food trucks, friends who own creative studios (perfect for events) ,and we wanted to highlight the fact that community is what continues to allow us all to thrive. As people automatically tend to do at times, we’ve had assumptions from one party or another that we’re in competition with our former employer Graywhale — and other record shops in the community. This is absolutely not the case. We’re all really good friends and just want to see each other succeed. We all have our own specialty from store to store, and we’ve participated in a lot of these markets over the last couple years. I’ve learned that every vendor always has different offerings. Why wouldn’t we bring that all together and share a customer base? We all benefit. We’re all about small business and we want more of us having a stake on the claim.

NixBeat: In addition, Lavender Vinyl also supports the Lighthouse Lounges Vinyl Night on Wednesdays. How did you get involved with this vinyl night?

Kye Hallows: Umm. We love beer. haha. But really, we love the Lighthouse Lounge and Paddy Tegalia who hosts vinyl night is a long standing customer of ours- pretty much since day one. It’s right across the street from us and it’s definitely our bar of choice. The staff is super queer and they’re always down for working with us — we do our Record Store Day after party with them every year. It’s another great way to cross collaborate with another small business in our community and we both get supported by doing it. It’s a win win.

NixBeat: What does the future hold for Lavender Vinyl?

Kye Hallows: we just hope to continue to serve our community and uplift our queer friends in Ogden. We’re so thankful to be able to sell records for a living, and we’re devoted to keeping our friends on the rise along with us. It’s a big belief for us that we have a voice to use because we’re respected in Ogden, and we will continue to use our voice for what is important for us. We’re continuing along with our zine and our satellite shops in Bountiful and Logan, and hope to see those locations grow.



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