The Last Record Store opened on January 15, 1983 in Downtown Santa Rosa by Michael “Hoyt” Wilhelm and Doug Jayne.
Hoyt & Doug met in Azusa, CA in the late 1970’s, and worked together at Music Plus, a fairly decent chain store that was created by disgruntled former Wherehouse employees.
In 1982, Hoyt was ready to begin a career in teaching after graduating UC Santa Cruz. Doug was the service manager at Smother’s Volvo in Santa Rosa. While visiting Hoyt in Santa Cruz, Doug was impressed with the large number of hip, independent record stores in town. Santa Rosa had one independent record store at that time: Prez Records in the Railroad Square section of Santa Rosa. An ad in the Press Democrat listed that Prez was “For Sale” and at one point, Doug was ready to buy, but the owners backed out. Slightly annoyed, but not discouraged, Doug met with volunteers of SCORE (Sonoma County Organization of Retired Executives) who convinced him that buying an existing store was not the only way to go; with all his experience in record-retail, he should open his own store. Doug had only been in Sonoma County for 3 years, so the SCORE people had him spend his lunch hours checking foot traffic in different areas of Santa Rosa. Doug found a spot at 739 4th Street in Downtown Santa Rosa, an odd shaped, former optometrist’s office to his liking. He drove to Santa Cruz and somehow convinced Hoyt to postpone teaching, move to Sonoma County, and be his partner in the record store.
In 2003, after a 20 year run in Downtown Santa Rosa, our landlord broke up with us. We rebounded quite well, being contacted by Community Market who offered us our current location. What a great spot! Free parking, more square feet, and oh, do we love those SRJC students and faculty…
Sometimes we are asked what our store specializes in. It’s a fair question; some stores specialize in metal, some in jazz, etc. What we really specialize in is customer service: getting you tunes you want. We know that not everyone is as nutty about music as we are, but music is a big part of lots of people’s lives. Sharing that passion is really a big kick for us; making a living doing it is AWESOME.
Another thing we get asked about is our name. We named the store after the Little Feat LP The Last Record Album. That was Hoyt’s idea; Doug thought of Uncle Meat’s Records (named after a Frank Zappa record) No one liked Doug’s idea…
We are not happy about all of the record stores that have closed their doors over the past few years, but we are thrilled that the vinyl LP is making a comeback. Collecting music is cool again! To paraphrase Lou Gehrig, today, we consider ourselves the luckiest men on the face of the earth.