Licorice Pizza Record Store is Back in its Glory in Studio City, CA

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City
Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

Before you start reading this blog post, here’s a little trivia. What is exactly Licorice Pizza? It is a slang for vinyl records which have the size of small pizza and appearance of shiny and black licorice.

You’ve probably heard about it. Licorice Pizza movie was nominated Oscars’ Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Directing. At the BAFTA Awards, the movie won Best Original Screenplay, and at the NBR Award, it won Best Film and Best Director and countless other nominations from the film community.

But for those who didn’t know, Licorice Pizza was a popular record store in the 70s and the 80s and also sold other pop culture items. For Gen X and pop culture buffs like me, it was a popular hang out where you can browse among vinyl records and novelty items like Betty Boop, Felix the Cat, posters, and pin-ups. I vividly recall buying a pin-up of Simon Le Bon (I still have this after more than 30 years), Betty Boop Stickers, and a picture disc of Culture Club at the Licorice Pizza store in Stonewood Mall in Downey, CA when I was 13 years young.

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

Just like many other retail stores in the 80s, think Montgomery Ward, Kinney Shoes, Miller’s Outpost, Licorice Pizza also closed down. The record store was popular among the Gen-X crowd when it was cool to hang out in a record store or the mall on the weekends. Licorice Pizza is now back in its glory in Studio City. If it wasn’t for the Instagram account of Alison Martino, Producer and Pop Culture Enthusiast , I may not have discovered this comeback of a store that was a big part of my youth life.

I had the opportunity to chat with Kerry Brown who brought back the iconic pop culture store from the 80s. In this Q&A Kerry mentioned why he brought back the name of “Licorice Pizza” , what made him choose the current location, what’s Paul Thomas Anderson take on the store, Kerry’s business plans in the future, and a lot more.

Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

Popbuff: Tell us your backstory and how did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Kerry: Lots of history here and here.

Our goal is to bring back community. We encourage all creatives – from music, comedy, TV, movies, and all entertainment – to join us as we revolutionize and support those who need it the most. Having a record store was my childhood dream, and I built it just in time for the world to shut down.

Popbuff: When did you start your record store
Kerry: In early 2020, we opened just a few months before lockdown. Licorice Pizza Records is beyond perfect. We painted the logo above the storefront in November 2021, just in time for RSD Black Friday, which was created by the same folks at Record Store Day.

Popbuff: What successful entrepreneur has had the most influence on you?
Kerry: David Bowie was always ahead of the curve, not just as a musician, artist, and performer, but also in business. Look back on his predictions about the internet back in the mid-90’s and how it would change everything. Or in 2007 when he created Bowie Bonds in order to buy back his own catalog and publishing from his previous manager. Those were the precursors to today’s NFTs where people can own a small share in their favorite songs. He took a stand and made bold choices.

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

Popbuff: I grew up in the ’80s and loved the Licorice Pizza store where I used to hang out in Stonewood Mall in Downey, why did you decide to add the name Licorice Pizza to your “Hear We Are” record store, is it because of the movie?
Kerry: I practically lived at the Orange #20 Licorice Pizza Store. I didn’t work there, but it was hard to tell who did! In 1980, nothing was cooler than Licorice Pizza to us. It’s part of my musical DNA. I started a band with people who worked there called St. Vitus Dance. Later, we changed the name to Children’s Day. This was years before I was the drummer of Catherine.

Popbuff: What did Paul Thomas Anderson say about your Licorice Pizza store? Did he visit yet? Does he plan to visit for any meet and greets?
Kerry: Paul loves the store and he’s virtually family. Yes, Paul has been to the store a bunch of times. Paul’s movie was going to be called Soggy Bottom, but there was this moment of inspiration. We actually did a pop-up booth selling vintage 1970s at The Landmark theatre where Paul Thomas Anderson was appearing for two back-to-back sold out Q&A screenings.

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

Popbuff: Are we gonna see more of the old-school Licorice Pizza concept in the near future?
Kerry: We’re living that old-school vibe every day! Former employees from those early decades stop into the store all the time and retell their stories. Jim Greenwood, the original founder in 1969, loves what we’re doing. He visited our store about a month ago and you never know what could happen next! Vinyl was replaced by CDs and now CDs have been replaced by vinyl again. Who could have predicted that? The past is the future all over again.

Popbuff: What do you have in the pipeline? Are you planning to add more locations?
Kerry: Now that everyone is talking about the name and where it comes from and all the artists who frequented the store, there’s a real interest in the authenticity and nostalgia. So yes, we’re looking into opening new locations across the country.

Popbuff: What made you choose your current location?
Kerry: We own the building! We’ve been at this current location recording music and doing business for years now. We’re keeping the Licorice Pizza tradition of being close to the valley.

Popbuff: What is unique about “Hear we Are/Licorice Pizza” among other vinyl record stores
Kerry: The history of this location, the legacy of our name, and of course our staff.

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

Popbuff: What are the challenges of owning a record store?
Kerry: The trickiest part is inventory. Our online store is massive and endless, but when we’re stocking the shelves here in our local brick and mortar store, we can only stock so many artists, both new and used. The visual alone makes us tastemakers, showing off the newest albums and what’s fresh. We provide what people are craving and that nostalgia of the best albums from all the previous decades. The classics never go out of fashion.

Popbuff: Any memorable moments?
Kerry: So many of our memorable moments at the store have been interviews and in-store appearances by artists, like interviewed by MTV legend Matt Pinfield. Those became the Rolling Live podcast and you can see that footage on YouTube. Plus, we’re going to have a lot more in-store performances called Licorice Pizza Party. First one coming up is Thursday April 14 with Frankie + The Studs. Live music in a vinyl record store! It’s so old school and awesome.

Popbuff: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Kerry: Just like my old blog, there ain’t no sleep when you’re living the dream, but my word of advice is to get some rest. Dreams come true, but it takes time!

Licorice Pizza record store is located at 12230 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA Phone #(310) 887-1140

Follow Licorice Pizza Record store on Instagram.

Special thanks to Deanna.

Hear We Are record store in Studio City -
Hear We Are/Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City
Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at the Licorice Pizza Record Store in Studio City

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