By Daniel Van Hoosier
Music, Literature, Art, Culture. The words seen outside Fingerprints record store are brought to life and collectively work to bring a community together on the inside.
The music industry has changed dramatically over the last few years and Fingerprints is a survivor of the times, due mostly to its ties to the community it serves. Selection and accessibility keep its large customer base coming back for more.
The Long Beach staple, which has been in business for more than 18 years, provides a glimmer of hope for local, independent business during a time when the economy has been anything but kind.
Located on 4th Street in Long Beach, Fingerprints has found it’s new home after more than 15 years in Belmont Shore.
“I think Fingerprints is important to this area because so many other record stores have gone out of business,” store employee Heather Edgar said. “It’s really important to have a place where people can come listen to music, meet other musicians, meet other people who like music, sample music, have the real thing in their hand and talk about music.”
Fingerprints offers many events such as free in-store performances, meet-and-greet opportunities with musicians, book signings and much more. The live performances have included huge acts such as the Grammy Award-winning Foo Fighters, FUN. and The Horrible Crowes.
Such events bring the Long Beach community together and even create lasting relationships.
“I know customers have met at events or just shopping,” Edgar said. “I’ve had engaged couples come in and say ‘hey, could we shoot our engagement photos here, this is where we met.’ So I know people do interact and meet.”
The store promotes many local events such as the “Long Beach Clean Up,” college nights, “Meals on Wheels” for veterans, art shows and many more. Posters, brochures and other forms of promotion for the events can be seen immediately upon entry.
Fingerprints serves as a one-stop shop for customers who are interested in anything from CD’s, vinyl, movies, books, collectables or artwork.
“We want to be here for Long Beach as a place to come always, “ Edgar said. “Moving forward the goal is to be getting better and better. We’re always fine-tuning. I think we’re doing alright, but with the economy it’s definitely a struggle, we try to pinch pennies when we can.”
Edgar also said there are plans in the works for Fingerprints to team up with some other local business to host events during the upcoming holiday season.
The store also reaches out to its local customer base by supporting many community efforts such as “Occupy Long Beach.”
Fingerprints’ neighbor and semi-business partner, Berlin opened at the time the record store moved-in about a year and a half ago.
The businesses together provide locals a place where they can browse thousands of music titles, catch a live show, study, gather with friends and have a snack or coffee.
Berlin employee Kerstin Kansteiner said the partnership/location was a calculated risk at first due the not knowing what the reception would be like downtown, but now it is clear the right decision was made.
“We’re both established Long Beach businesses,” Kansteiner said. “We’re independently run and we felt like we have something to add to the community and we can make a good point for people to shop here and shop local.”
“There is enough business down here,” Kansteiner added. “There are a lot of people who live in the high-rise buildings who want to support local business and don’t want to get in their car and drive someplace else.”
The connection between the businesses is visible as an open doorway connects the two and customers can frequently be seen traveling between them.
Long-time customer Cassie Hutchinson said Fingerprints provides more options than traditional retail stores at reasonable prices while promoting local artists and helping listeners become closer to the music.
“It’s nice to be able to be able to discover new people,” Hutchinson, 23, said. “They have little red tabs on the local artists so it’s interesting to see who they are and buy their music. It’s nice to be able to support the artists who are trying to break through.”