At Fruit Fly Records, South Florida's newest record store, the rarest, most expensive record on display is a limited-edition, Japanese pressing of Daft Punk's seminal 2001 album Discovery, sealed and in mint condition. Emblazoned with the cartoon cast of the album's feature-length animated music video Interstella 5555, it's one of the most sought-after records by collectors. The highest price anyone ever paid for a copy on the record marketplace website Discogs? $2,368.56.
The store's copy is not for sale.
This is not the kind of place one goes to pick up a dusty copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, in other words. It's a shop where you may just be able to find the best record you've ever heard. Owner Giovanni Hanna says he wanted to put into the shop the same level of meticulous care that he uses for his own collection. Most of the stock is in mint or near-mint condition.
"I've always been neurotic about condition," Hanna says. "No matter what it is I've bought in my life, I've always done a bit of research."
Fruit Fly Records takes its name from Hanna's doctoral studies on the evolutionary characteristics of fruit flies. Struggling with the academic process and seeing little satisfying results from his research, Hanna noticed his fiancée having success with a plant shop and decided to try and create a business of his own out of his other passion: record collecting.
The shop is currently appointment-only, although Hanna doesn't want this fact to discourage visitors and will happily take same-day appointments. The shop's stock is also available to peruse online, and a Discogs page is forthcoming. Located in Kendall, it's one of the first shops of its kind in the area. Hanna says the shop has been well-received by locals following an opening party on January 27.
"People were really excited to see that something like this exists in the area," he adds.
But perhaps the most interesting and vital part of the Fruit Fly collection is Hanna's extensive holdings of Middle Eastern music. Hanna, who is of Armenian-Lebanese heritage, grew up listening to music from the region but laments that not much has survived from the heyday of vinyl.
"People in that area tend to be obsessed with technology," he says. "A lot of people just trashed their records or left them behind."
In that respect, rescuing and recirculating records from artists like Munir Bachir, a legendary Iraqi oud player influenced by Spanish flamenco guitar, or the important Lebanese composer Ziad Rahbani is a means of cultural preservation. Obsession helps, of course. Hanna says that when a reissue of Rahbani's 1985 album Houdou Nisbi came out, he ordered so many copies the distributor ran out.
"This music is part of history, and a lot of what I deal with is historical," Hanna explains.
With this perspective, it makes sense that Hanna is such a stickler for quality. He wants customers to take care of their vinyl and dislikes that many secondhand record stores carry low-quality pressings or scratched product. Hanna wants to sell only the best, most well-maintained vinyl records possible at Fruit Fly. He seeks out only the best pressings in the best possible condition for his stock, free from scratches or defects. It may be expensive — or it may not. The point is that it's been taken care of, and if it's maintained in the same condition, it'll last forever.
"Quality doesn't necessarily come with a high price," Hanna says. "I don't want you to have to buy the same records more than once in your lifetime."
Fruit Fly Records. 9830 SW 77th Ave., Ste. 135, Miami; 619-565-4262; fruitflyrecords.com. By appointment only.