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Boise’s Record Exchange to transition to new owners after 44 years

The Record Exchange used to end its ads on the radio with a simple promise:

The Record Exchange… As long as there’s music.

For the last 43 years, the store stood at the corner of 11th St. and Idaho St. in Boise, owned by Michael Bunnell and later partner Jill Sevy. From the namesake records to tapes to compact discs – even an expansion for a time to West Boise and more… the Record Exchange has served the music needs of Boiseans. Maybe not for as long as music has been around… but long enough that anyone who purchased their favorite tune on physical media in Boise can remember at this point.

Music is still going strong — and so is the Record Exchange. Now, with new owners.

Starting Wednesday, Exchange employees Catherine Merrick, Glenn Newkirk, and Chad Dryden will take over the store – along with Dryden’s wife, Erica Sparlin Dryden.

The new soundtrack of life for Bunnell and Sevy: the sweet sound of retirement.

“My vision for the store from the beginning was to create a place where people of all ages and musical tastes could discover and share their passion for music,” Bunnell said. “I wanted the store to be an ‘experience,’ and I hope on some level we’ve succeeded in that goal. It was always my hope that when Jil and I were ready to retire, the store would continue in the hands of employees who care about the culture we’ve created.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Long Boise history

The new ownership group. Courtesy The Record Exchange

The RX actually started 44 years ago – in 1977, with a shop on Orchard St. Bunnell and Al Benton put up most of Bunnell’s record collection for sale. The next year, the store moved to the Downtown Boise location, in the Hitchcock Building. The 1910s era structure started as a place to buy used cars – but in recent decades became the spot to buy used (and new) music.

RX expanded by merging with a shop next door, diversifying its offerings — and lately, being a rare breed: a place to buy physical media and more in the age of streaming. The store includes a professional stage and points to artists as different as Smashing Pumpkins, Ed Sheeran, and Luke Combs on its roster of touring talents.

Bunnell and Sevy eventually bought the building and will hang on to it in retirement.

“We are very grateful to the Boise community for its support over the years, in particular the local musicians who have played our stage and contributed their talents to countless store events,” Sevy said. “We thank the wonderful employees we’ve worked with over the decades, including our two sons Ian and Eric, who have all been a vital part of The Record Exchange family.”

Bunnell and Sevy. Courtesy The Record Exchange

[2020: Record Exchange adapts to serve customers virtually on usually busy day]

Together, Merrick, Newkirk, and Chad Dryden have as many years of experience as the 11th & Idaho location is old: 43 years.

“As a youth, I spent many hours in this building – it was a safe space for me, particularly as a female music enthusiast who didn’t fit in elsewhere,” Merrick said. “The Record Exchange has always encouraged women to be a part of this industry, so to be able to be part of the RX team, as a young customer to long-time employee-turned-owner, is really validating. I’m excited to carry forward and build on the tradition of making RX inclusive and to continue supporting and fostering the diverse artists and creatives in our community.”

“The Record Exchange had been my home-away-from-home for 30 years,” Newkirk said. “I’m honored to be a member of the RX family and feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of the continuing story.”

Bunnell says he’s excited for what’s to come.

“I couldn’t be happier about the employees who have stepped up to take the helm and guide the store into the future,” he said.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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