Don’t be fooled by the tiny storefront space—this new Ossington record shop caters to casual listeners and hardcore collectors alike.
LP’s LPs (104 Ossington Ave.) is the latest addition to Toronto’s burgeoning vinyl scene. At first glance, it also appears to be the city’s smallest record shop, with a main floor not much bigger a walk-in closet. However, a trip down into its bare-bones basement reveals a generous selection of records, with sections devoted to disco, psych, and goth.
How it got started: LP’s LPs grew out of owner Lorenz Peter’s personal record collection. “I run an arts co-op and studio on Dufferin Street,” he explains. “Last year, I had the idea to bring all the records that I was accumulating beyond my collection to the studio and to sell them once a week. And it was going well—there was some interest from collectors and other random people who saw the posters and would come in. I was doing good just doing it once a week, so I took the next step, I guess, when I found this storefront and brought all the records here.”
What’s in store: Although Peter’s taste leans towards the esoteric—as evinced by the cult appeal of many records showcased on the shop’s main floor—LP’s LPs is still well-stocked with staples. “The first record I sold here was Cyndi Lauper,” he says. “It’s good to have something for everybody, because there are those people who just wander in and they’re looking for The Eagles and The Doors, and I have the Eagles and The Doors, just like every other record shop should. I can’t always listen to space disco. I love that music, but not everyone does.
“But then I have the more specialized collection of Canadian electronica and new wave and experimental music, minimal and industrial,” Peter says. “Because that’s where my collection stems from. There’s people who are coming here because you can’t easily find some of these records—they’re not as available. I’m definitely aiming to get the attention of those who are looking for something different.”
A collector at heart: Peter’s own record collecting guides his approach to the business. “When I’m shopping for myself, I’ll hit a certain part of town because I know there’s three record shops there and I’ll visit them all,” he says. “In the east end, there’s some great stuff going on and now, in the west end, there is, too.”
One Queen West store has proven particularly inspirational. “Rotate This is great—they’re definitely the flagship,” says Peter. “Their record collection got really small for a while, but now it’s huge again and that’s just great. I remember when they first opened, they mailed out a colouring contest to everyone in the neighbourhood at Bathurst and Queen. I received a Butthole Surfers poster, but I didn’t colour it in—I liked it black and white. That would have been in 1990 or something. I think I still have it.”
Open first, decorate later: From the day he got the keys, it took Peter less than a week to open LP’s LPs. “It was at the back of my mind that I would like a storefront, a better place to sell the records, but I actually stumbled upon this space,” he says. “I saw the sign in the window and it had only gone up the day before, and I just jumped at the opportunity. I got in here Dec. 1, and I was open on Dec. 6. It’s a work in progress—I prepared it in a week. But that’s just the way I am. I like to do things right away. I’d say in another month or two, it will have more of a feel of a record store and not a garage sale. As the months go by, it’ll start to look a lot prettier.”