George Casey, Owner of Lost Padre Records
Owner of Lost Padre Records
Watching ancient science fiction, horror, spaghetti western and film noir movies. Reading tales of urban exploration and accounts of lost gold.
Where are you from and how did you decide to live in Santa Fe?
I’m from New Jersey originally but have lived many places. My wife and I moved here after finally deciding to leave Brooklyn and move somewhere with better access to the outdoors and a more attainable standard of living.
What is your personal background, and what was your professional journey to get to where you are today?
My grandfather was the first rock’n’roll DJ in South Carolina, having worked previously at the same station Alan Freed was at in Cleveland; so there is some musical background there. I spent high school hanging out with phone and computer hackers in Corpus Christi, Texas, a place where there was very little to do but “redbox” phones, listen to punk rock, and attend sci-fi conventions. My taste in music was forged through many different people- kids my age, oldies radio and whatever would appear at Half Price Books or the thrift store. I came to college in California with zero money but a craving to broaden my horizons and I found it in the local record store that would do $1 record sales periodically with amazing LPs to be had for next to nothing. Then there was Napster, ascendant and then crashing down during my college years. You could look for and find almost anything, often mistakenly finding something even better than what you were looking for. There were no genre limits -- if it was good, it was good. And so my taste in music was forged.
On the business side of things, my father started his own business when I was about 8 years old and ran it out of the family home, something that had a more profound effect on me than I realized at the time! I studied computer science and German in college, and upon moving to Prague after graduation, I accidentally started a business selling antique cameras on the web. After a recession and a few other European detours, I built a career in online marketing and later as a web analyst in New York. Eventually, the pull of being my own boss collided with an overwhelming desire to get out of the corporate atmosphere and my never waning love of music and records, which led me to the business I’m in now.
What made you want to open up a record shop?
The places I found music -- thrift stores and my college record store -- were social places. In high school I literally hung out in thrift stores, talking to other people looking through music and junk, talking to clerks. The record store to me is a vital public place, even if it is also a business. It validates something that so many people find necessary to life and it can even foster the work of upcoming and local talent. I’m also a people person -- I like to talk to people and I like to talk about music. So eventually it’s also purely selfish!
What role has music had in your life?
Music was a refuge for me when I first got into it in high school, a secret language that only you and your friends knew about. Later I discovered it can be the best thing to bring people together. More recently I’ve begun to suspect there’s a hidden code under all music that contains some secret... if we keep digging deeper, maybe someday we’ll hit gold.
What aspect of Lost Padre Records are you most proud of?
I’m probably proudest when someone comes in and finds something they’ve been looking for and couldn’t find elsewhere. Even more so when that person buys a few things in wildly different genres, like a Stockhausen Record and a Tommy James & the Shondells 45.
How did you come up with the name?
The Lost Padre mine is a legend about lost gold in the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces. I’m mildly obsessed with the history of people searching for gold that they mostly don’t find... and feel like there’s some connection to what we’re looking for on that next record we pick up.
What's your favorite record and why?
Not surprisingly, I can’t possibly name one. But I’m listening to Painful by Yo La Tengo right now for the millionth time. It’s an early 90’s Record that has so much meaning for me. As to why, it’s hard to say, as with a lot of music there’s the visceral feel of it wrapped up with the nostalgia of all the other times I’ve heard it. You can’t really separate those two things, so it’s likely some combination of the two.
How do you source records?
I’ve bought large collections in many different places, including buying out a dealer in South Carolina who was a bit of a hero to me. These days, a lot of records walk into the shop looking for a new home.
What's your ultimate goal for Los Padre Records?
To provide a space for everyone, regardless of specific tastes, to appreciate music. More selfishly, to keep doing the thing that I feel is the closest to my heart.
What's your favorite thing about what you do?
Talking to people about music and finding music new to me that’s awesome.
What's the most challenging thing about your work?
Making sure there’s a good mix of different kinds of music in the store at reasonable prices.
What is the best entrepreneurship advice you've ever received?
It seems like a pretty obvious one, but a record store owner told me to post my hours and be there when I’ve said I will be. I take that a bit further to mean do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t flake out.
These days I get most of my entrepreneurial advice from Damon Archuletta, who runs the Initiate Skateboarding shop next to me. He’s kind of my business guru/whisperer.
What makes Santa Fe special to you?
The country and the world are both getting more homogenized. Santa Fe is actually a bit different from places I’ve lived before with its pretty unique history. There’s still some feeling of regionalism here which I think the modern world is, unfortunately, rushing to erase as quickly as it can.
What are your favorite things about this place?
The natural surroundings are pretty amazing. Just driving to the shop and seeing what’s going on up the mountain— is it raining? Are the leaves changing? makes me feel pretty good. I like the local people I’ve met and I’m excited to meet the people who move here and their reasons for it.
What would you change about Santa Fe if you could?
I’d like to see cheaper rents and more jobs for young people. I think a lot of young people would like to live in a place like Santa Fe but there are limitations keeping some people away and some people from staying.
What are you passionate about outside of running your shop?
I grew up in a very political household, so I’m a news junkie. I couldn’t stop if I tried. But I try to keep it separate from my business because records should be a refuge, not a frying pan to the world’s fire.
At the end of the day, why do you do what you do?
Truthfully, it’s probably because I can’t do anything else, so let’s hope it works out! Hahaha. It only feels like work half of the time. The rest is some kind of pure joy, which makes me one lucky son of a gun.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your business?
All are welcome! Probably this is the most important thing to know. We have stock as cheap as $2 and as expensive as $300, we carry everything from classical to indigenous music to death metal. We have a listening station so you can come in and check stuff out. We do live music events in the shop at least once a month- generally free admission, so you don’t even have to be a record person to visit. Stop by and let’s talk some music or just listen to something! Also, this weekend (Saturday, October 13) we are having our first $1 record sale. There will be 10,000 records for $1 or less in every genre, plus cheap audio gear, and people spinning records outside at the shop. Come by!