Located One door down from the corner of Alphonse Baudin and Saint-Sébastien streets, near the Richard Lenoir Green Belt Square in Paris France, sits Betinos Record Shop. Situated next to Rush Bar, L’Atelerie Beauty Shop, hotels and more stores than you could visit in a week, record bins of the best of classic vinyl, newer releases, obscure releases, reggae and disco fill the walls and center floor of Betinos. A listening station is occupied by a the woman clad in olive khakis checking out a new release suggestion. Walking past her with your new selection in hand you approach the counter to place it on the counter and pay. While fidgeting with your wallet for your payment you notice some vinyl cleaner on the back wall. A bottle of Pristine Platters is placed in your bag and you hurry home to your flat to check out your vinyl. You decide to clean it for good measure before your first listen. Glancing at the bottle you notice the words Rivesville, West Virginia on the back. And this is where our story begins. From Paris… To Rivesville, WV. Nestled along the Monongahela River sits the former manufacturing town. Home of the Rams. Home of the well known brewery, Short Story Brewing. And it is home to Assumption Records and its owners Noelle and Patrick Kolb, who also happen to be the manufacturers of Pristine Platters record cleaner. The Kolbs met in New York and lived all over the country before finally residing in Rivesville, West Virginia where they had the goal of opening up a record store that would influence the music scene and the community at large.
We sat down with the Kolbs to discuss Assumption Records and what being in West Virginia means to them.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
BB: You all moved to Rivesville and opened Assumption Records before the vinyl resurgence really hit..
PK: I’m glad you said “really hit” because the writing was on the wall. We had seen the beginnings of it while living in Richmond, Virginia.
BB: There’s a lot of controversy around his name, but Kanye West was mocked when he released his album 808s & Heartbreak on Vinyl. That was in 2008 and he said that he guaranteed vinyl was about to make a comeback.
PK: He’s been predicting the future on a variety of subjects for a while… (all laugh …nervously)
BB: He nailed it. I picked it up because he piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see if he’d be right, and 300 vinyl in my collection later…he was right.
PK: Well, we were selling online for a long time before we thought about opening up a retail store. But what we learned was it would be nice to have a retail store not only due to timing, which was the perfect time, but because we needed a place to store our inventory.
NK: Records were all over the house. In the kitchen. On the counter. I was just feeling like this was crazy.
PK: Yeah she was saying if we are going to do this we need a space .
NK: Yes, and now they’re completely separate.
PK: Other than our personal collection of records upstairs that we like to listen to everything else is now here.
BB: So you end up opening a record store in an old church. Some might not understand the name and how that came to be. Can you explain how you came up with Assumption Records?
NK: Yeah, we had no clue what we were going to call ourselves and we toyed with the idea of Eighth Day Records and the puns on the whole church theme. Shortly after buying the place, we were cleaning up.. it needed a lot of work, and we then found the Assumption Catholic Church sign and that was it.
PK: But I’m happy with whatever people decide the name means.
BB: There’s an assumption?
BB: You both have had a front row seat to the vinyl resurgence, from the time you opened until now in 2023, how have things changed?
NK: We opened in 2014, so nine years ago and it has been steady building
PK: The pandemic threw things off a little bit, and for all of that our sales were online. But now that we are getting closer to normal, I’d say that we have had one of our best years yet.
BB: Can I posit that covid may have actually helped record sales?
NK: Yes, you may. We definitely felt that. I was going to the post office with boxes of records to ship out. People had nothing to do and they rediscovered a lot of things they used to love.
BB: I’ve seen a lot of people that had never touched a vinyl before 2019 and now they’re constantly upgrading to the newest player and better speakers all for their vinyl collection.
NK: I will tell you one change we’ve seen, is that there are more parents coming in and shopping for Christmas presents for their kids than ever before. College and high school kids are totally growing this and wanting vinyls and that’s driving a lot of this.
BB: I’ve seen that with my own children. They want the physical media. It’s great to have your music on your phone but there is something about having that physically in your hand and reading the sleeve, the lyrics, and all of the variations of each vinyl being made. So, for the first time since the launch of the CD, vinyl has regained its seat as the most purchased physical media. A lot of people are dismissive of that by saying CDs are on the decline, but the reality is that 33.4 million cds were sold compared to 41 million vinyls. Those aren’t small numbers. How has that increase impacted your ability to keep up with demand?
NK: During covid there was fire that impacted production on new vinyl, so those became harder to get for a bit.
NK: Yesterday, we had two collections brought into us and today we already had a call about someone bringing in a collection. So it’s actually gone both ways. Some people are holding onto them while others are saying “Finally I can sell this and maybe get some money”
PK: There is an awareness that now there is a market for it whereas beforehand the collections just sat in a basement.
BB: What is the craziest find you’ve had while going through a collection.
PK: The first one that comes to mind isn’t a pleasant thought as it only came to my attention after I sold the record. There was a letter from Ike and Tina Turner to The Rolling Stones regarding covering one of their songs. It was stuck in the vinyl sleeve. The guy bought it and came back to say did you see this? No, I didn’t see that! That one hurt.
NK: Now that same guy wants us to buy his collection so we may get that one back, but I’m sure we will be paying extra for it. (Laughs nervously) We’ve had some nice finds. Sometimes we get collections of 45s that have some nice finds in them. Things we don’t even know about until we research them.
PK: There was a touching moment in the store a while back, where a guy almost started breaking down in tears. We asked what was going on and he said “This is my fathers record.” I said you mean one like your dad owned? He said “No, this is the actual copy that my father owned. He wrote his name in it.’ His father had passed and he got to get this back. It was great to be able to provide that.
NK: And they lived in the Wheeling area, somehow we got it and he happened to come into the store and he found it here in Rivesville. I love that. I love when records end up where they’re supposed to be. It’s the best feeling.
BB: When people talk about Assumption, they always talk about you two by name. It’s not just a record store. I think you have done a good job of fostering a community around the vinyl collection. What has that meant to you, that you’ve created an environment where people feel safe and welcome and they’re happy to be here?
NK: It’s fantastic!
PK: That’s the most rewarding part of it. We have to make money and earn a living, but that’s not what we do it for.
NK: When people come in here, it’s like we are experiencing some kind of therapy, because we just talk and we have made some of our best friendships through here.
That same guy who found his fathers record here said we have a ministry, and it just happens to be in an old church turned record store.
PK: But all beliefs are welcomed here!
NK: We sell all kinds of records.
Assumption Records sells vinyls and their cleaner all across the globe. Check them out on Record Store Day, every April where they have bands events to make it a unique shopping experience.