Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rainbow Records: Behind the scenes of the Newark staple

Arts and CultureRainbow Records: Behind the scenes of the Newark staple

Staff Reporter

At Rainbow Records, no two days are alike.

Owner Melissa Forsythe and Chrissy Morgan, the store’s main employee, agree on this immediately. In fact, the only thing they can name as a set routine would be coming in and turning the lights on.

“It really depends on if it’s a new release day, if we’ve got a lot of new records, if somebody comes in with a collection,” Forsythe said. “But otherwise we’re pricing records, pricing shirts.”

It’s not just the employees who never know what the day might hold at the store. With collections of records, CDs, cassettes, posters, magazines, stickers, clothing and music equipment that are added to the store every day, shoppers never know what they might find (though they can get hints by keeping up with Rainbow Record’s social media, where new records are posted daily). From the record currently spinning in the back to the bins of $5 shirts out front, the store is constantly changing.

Opened in 1979, Rainbow Records has bounced around Newark throughout its 40-year history. After its original location on West Main Street (formerly known as Elkton Road) and its move to a longtime Main Street spot in the 1980s, it found a home at Pomeroy Station in 2019 under then-owners Todd and Miranda Brewer. Three years later, the store was sold to then-manager Melissa Forsythe, who has run it ever since.

Today, the behind-the-scenes of the store continues as it always has. Forsythe and Morgan spend their days putting out new records, answering messages and booking shows. The “most challenging and most rewarding” aspect of the business, as described by Forsythe, would be record collection buying, when customers bring in their used vinyls to sell.

“They bring them in, we look through them, we make a rough estimate of what the percentage is that we pay them, we make them an offer,” Forsythe said of the process. “We’re happy to look at anything. We want everybody to be happy.”

Another one of Forsythe and Morgan’s most important duties involves setting up shows.

The store’s shows, which occur around twice a month, involve “a little bit of everything,” according to Forsythe. Bands of all genres play sets as the store transforms into a performance venue. 

When reached out to by a band, Forsythe first collects information about their genre, members and location, then offers possible show dates. She emphasizes the importance of variety in scheduling, making sure the store is able to host many different styles of bands throughout the year. The store also recently hosted its annual Spring Jam in March, which saw 18 bands perform inside and outside the store over the course of one day. 

In addition to working with local bands, Rainbow Records partners with local businesses. Currently, some of their stock can be found at Spaceboy Clothing in Wilmington, which also prints some of their shirts (such as their Record Store Day clothing). Morgan and Forsythe also mentioned their frequent collaborations with local store Wonderland Records, such as helping each other find records for customers that the other may not have. 

“Being a small business, that’s what it’s about, supporting each other,” Forsythe said. “We’re all working together to make sure the community is strong.” She later adds, “Amazon is the enemy, not each other.”

This sense of community extends to the store’s customers; Forsythe and Morgan often speak with visitors about recent releases or finds while shopping. The two expressed excitement to receive records that they know regulars have been looking for and to listen to customers’ favorites that they may not have heard of.

“I feel like I’m so much more in the know of different music,” Morgan said. “Talking to customers about music they’re interested in is a way I have done that.”

Forsythe agreed. 

“It’s exciting knowing people are getting what they want,” she said.

And that is the type of store Rainbow Records strives to be: a place where customers can get what they want, whatever it may be.




  1. This is an extremely well written article. Thank you miss Joella! Will definitely stop in this store to look at the vinyl records. I have quite a collection but always looking for better quality vintage records. I edit them in Studio One and Ableton Live. Please keep up to good work!


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