It’s a Saturday afternoon at Foothill Records and the regular clientele is starting to trickle in: local music enthusiasts looking for a rare used vinyl record, or maybe even a CD.
Carol Schofield sits in a chair behind the register, shouting out to customers to ask how they’re doing. Most seem to know what they’re looking for, and one regular informs her that he’s going to look in the back room of the store.
A young man drops a Doors LP onto the countertop and waits for her to inspect it. Price labels are absent from the majority of the stock, and Schofield typically makes a deal with the customer once they bring their purchases to the front.
“$5,” she tells him.
He looks ecstatic. “Really?” he asks.
“Why be greedy?” she says. “You sell more when you’re not.”
For 12 years, Foothill Records has catered to locals who crave a community record shop. But in October, Schofield plans to close the store, possibly moving it to a location on the Central Coast, where she now resides. The three-hour-long drive to the record shop is tedious, for both Schofield and her customers, who usually phone her in advance to ask if the store is open. She keeps flexible hours a few days a week.
Schofield opened the store in the summer of 2001, before the vast music store and cultural landmark Amoeba Records opened in Hollywood later that year. She had recently moved to La Cañada Flintridge after living in Glendale and happened upon the 1959 building on Foothill, across the street from Min’s Kitchen.
She opened her first record store at age 23 with a couple of friends in San Francisco, then a second one in Sacramento. Schofield grew up in the Bay Area and spent most of her time at the beach, she said.
“I had no ambition except rock ’n’ roll,” she said. “I didn’t want to work.”
The influence of living on the California coast is evident in her store and other projects. Foothill Records features a surf-music section and Schofield often plays the music of the Beach Boys in the store.
After opening the shop in La Cañada, she also started a record label called MsMusic Productions. Under that label, she has produced more than a dozen albums, most recently “Yo Ma Ma,” which features music by Stephen Kalinich and Jon Tiven. Kalinich, a poet, and sound engineer Mark Linett have both worked with the Beach Boys and now work with Schofield on her label.
Schofield said artists on her label have been influenced by La Cañada — often when walking on Foothill Boulevard or having a meal with friends near the record store.
Kalinich came up with the song “Hard to be a Millionaire” while having breakfast at Hill Street Cafe, said Schofield.
“He just kicked it out, right there at the table, ‘it’s hard to be a millionaire when you’re broke,’” she said.
The song is featured on “Yo Ma Ma.” Her friendship with Kalinich has led to collaborations on other albums, including “California Feeling” and “California Christmas Feeling.”
Managing both a record store and a label is a perfect mix, said Schofield. “They go hand in hand.”
It’s a labor of love
Foothill Records looks like a record store operating in the ’90s. Pink shelves hold vinyl LPs and a Coke machine and two jukeboxes sit idle in different corners. A round mirror reflects the blue-and-white checkered floor. Posters for various films are framed and hung on the walls, including “Pulp Fiction” and “The Fast and the Furious.” Behind the counter, Rolling Stone magazine covers from 1969 are displayed in protective covers.
Part of the store still holds used CDs, DVDs, books and sheet music. But when regulars enter the store, they tend to make a beeline for the vinyl discs. Albums recorded as LPs have made a comeback recently, with most major and small labels producing both a CD and an LP. But you won’t find any albums from new artists in Foothill Records.
Schofield instead stocks albums from recognizable artists such as the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Jefferson Airplane, Cher, Roy Orbison and Loretta Lynn. Music fans who listen to punk rock, soul, early rock or country have a place here.
Most of the customers are men who have been collecting vinyl for many years.
Philip Adams was looking for good deals on a recent Saturday afternoon. The number of places where he can find vinyl in the area are diminishing, the Pasadena resident said.
Last year, Penny Lane Records in Pasadena closed. Now another local, independent music store is closing its doors.
“Any time a record store closes, it hurts,” he said.
Steve Fjeldsted, a librarian for the South Pasadena Library, has been coming to Foothill Records since it opened. He now counts Schofield as a close friend.
“I think Carol starting a record store in La Cañada was a labor of love,” he said. “She likes this area and this record store will be sorely missed by a lot of music fans.
“I come here, and she puts on records for us to listen to,” he said. “I think she has a very unique stock, even though I’ve been collecting records for so long, I still find lots of things here that I enjoy.”
Fjeldsted said he prefers coming to Foothill Records over larger music stores like Amoeba for a more personalized experience.
“Carol will say, ‘Have you heard this, have you seen this?’ and put it on,” he said.
A few minutes later, as if to prove it, Schofield placed an LP in front of him and asked if he owns it. “No, I don’t,” he replied.
Schofield said that whether she opens a new store or not, Foothill Records will live on in some form. She will continue to sell albums on her website, www.foothillrecords.com, and on Amazon. She calls her work an “expensive hobby.”
“It’s just a passion,” she said. “When you do something like this, it has to have that.”
What: Foothill Records
Where: 1043 Foothill Blvd.
Information: Call (818) 952-1282 for store hours.