Beautiful World Syndicate
1619 E. Passyunk Ave. 215.467.0401
If music were a drug, your local record store would be a crack house. The clerk is your dealer. He feeds the addiction. Your relationship with him is intimate and essential.
If you've ever purchased a record at an R5 show at the First Unitarian Church, this is your relationship with Jonathan Yates, owner of the illustrious Church record distribution.
With a collection of more than 10,000 records, Yates established the distribution consortium Beautiful World Syndicate in 1999, and began working in tandem with the people at R5 Productions four years later. When not on the road selling records from the back of his truck, or generating ties at flea markets around the country, he sets up shop at R5 Church shows.
After six years of this vagabond-style vending, Yates opened his record store Beautiful World Syndicate on Passyunk Avenue earlier this month.
Yates' story starts off in Wisconsin, where in his high school years he began collecting records from garage sales. He says Minneapolis, with its epic record store selections, spoiled him. But in Philadelphia he saw an opportunity. "The record stores in Philadelphia can't compare with what they've got in Minneapolis. They have everything. Which is why Philadelphia works for me," he says, "because stores here don't."
After moving to Philadelphia in 2002 Yates weaved a thick network within the subculture of record digging. Fair pricing has earned him a credible reputation, which makes his job easier. "Nowadays I don't even need to look for records. Word gets 'round and people end up contacting me, offering me the most obscure shit."
Yates says Philly's record stores do little to cater to all musical tastes and needs. "I used to want to open up a punk rock music store, but now the goal is to have a well-priced selection so diverse, you can find anything you need. If someone is looking for something completely absurd, they'll know they can find it here."