Life has not always been easy for Raven Records & Rarities co-owners Jay Nations and Jack Stiles.
By 1994, Nations had gone through two failed locations for his business, largely due to rising rent and stiff competition around Cumberland Avenue. And Stiles had been living the “corporate life” for far too long.
Something had to change.
“I was worn out, swore I would never deal in tangibles again,” Nations said. “Went to work for Metro Pulse for a few years selling ads, gradually drifted back into records by doing eBay, record shows, consignment shops.”
Nations ended up contacting his friend (Stiles) of over 30 years in 2010 to see if he wanted to give up "corporate life" and help build a business specializing in exactly what the name suggests—records and rarities.
Now Raven Records & Rarities boasts over 20,000 LPs, a select number of CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, movie-related memorabilia, magazines and toys, to name a few.
In short, if you are looking for something that has to do with pop culture, there is a good chance their collectibles store has it, or they at least know how you can have it.
“I have 28 years’ experience selling records in Knoxville, nearly anyone who owns a business selling music took pointers from me at one time or another,” Nations said. “So, [I have] history and reputation. Jack sells stuff just not readily available anywhere else. His knowledge of movies is hard to beat”
The store is actually two businesses under one roof. Nations runs the Records side, while Stiles runs the Rarities side. The two run separate cash registers, but watch over the store and help with rent.
“We have more knowledge and experience than other record shops when it comes to vinyl and especially Jack's wares, stuff that you won't see anywhere else,” Nations said. “We have good crossover traffic, folks finding stuff they didn't realize they want.”
Even if you find nothing that interests you, Nations still recommends coming over to their new location on North Central Street. There you can get a beer, a haircut and something to eat through the various surrounding stores, right after you peruse your way through the many, many unique collectibles his store has to offer. And at the very least, come visit for a cool, free vinyl sticker of the store’s logo.
Raven Records & Rarities is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m., and will soon open on Sundays as well. For more information concerning the store, please click here.