There’s something uniquely special about a record store. Whether it's the unmistakable scent of vinyl or the promise of discovering unexplored worlds of sound hidden in crates, a heightened excitement comes with browsing a shop dedicated to music.
For the past two years, Technique Records has given Miami's most dedicated music fans a place to hang out, bolster their collections, and form a community with likeminded sonic obsessives. The store is set to celebrate its anniversary this Sunday, January 26, by hosting the Jazz Cafe — an event organized in collaboration with Brainville, a Miami-based radio program on the local jazz station WDNA 88.9 FM. The gathering will be a daylong affair presenting sounds from local jazz DJs and a live performance by Diego Melgar and the Third Ear. On top of the musical offerings, there will also be local food and beverage vendors, as well as ticket giveaways: Customers who purchase $50 or more in merchandise will qualify to receive free concert tickets from venues such as the Fillmore Miami Beach, Gramps, and the Ground.
This sort of community-minded engagement has been part and parcel for Technique since its 2018 opening. Store founder Mikey Ramirez attributes his shop's popularity and dedicated customer base in part to the renewed appreciation for physical formats in the streaming era.
“If people listened to music before streaming, they will listen to it after; the physical format will never cease to exist,” he says. As major retailers have stopped selling physical formats, local record stores have stepped in to fill the void.
However, as Ramirez stresses, a record store is only as strong as its curation. Nostalgia for the glory of musical yesteryears isn't enough; without a forward-thinking approach, things can get stagnant fast.
“You can tell we put blood, sweat, and tears into this," Ramirez says. “I can’t have one foot in the archaic and not have one foot in the future. The right way to approach this is to bring the right people on your team that have more of a scope of what’s going on and figure out how to bring those people into your store and make them feel welcome. And that’s where the events come in."
Miami is far from lacking in clubs and bars, but Technique Records provides a particular high for music junkies craving more specialized experiences. As the store manager and event coordinator, Caroline Cardenas is responsible for bringing different scenes together for Technique's weekly in-store programing. From karaoke nights with RnBae Collective and the Ambient Room to workshops with legendary artists such as Egyptian Lover, there’s truly something for everyone at the shop.
“It’s important for us to use Technique Records as a platform for the music community to thrive and as a safe space to share their love for music," Cardenas says. "A record store shouldn’t just sell music to their customers; it should engage them with workshops, in-store performances, and other events that encourage, reward, and influence the music community. The goal with the events in the shop is to inspire each other, to help fuel the music scene in Miami, and to constantly expose each other to new sounds."
Technique's drive to spark inspiration in Miami creatives has been bolstered by the opening of Wish You Were Gear, an in-store gear shop that encourages customers to buy, sell, and trade coveted analog music equipment. In Technique's back left corner sits an island full of synth gadgetry owned by Adam Gersten, the proprietor of the beloved Wynwood bar Gramps.
“He’s my best friend, and we tolerate each other like brothers... so why not?" Ramirez jokes of the arrangement. "It was the perfect symbiotic relationship, so fuck it: Let’s do it.”
Regarding Technique and Wish You Were Gear's clientele beyond Gersten, Ramirez says, there's a feedback loop in effect.
“The customer base feeds off each other," he says. "If you’re making music, there’s a good chance you’re buying music."
Beneath the carefully considered event curation and gear offerings lies a selection of records that's the rigid bedrock Technique. Taking into account his accrued expertise as well as ongoing trends, Ramirez spends hours stocking the store with gems.
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“I buy from the customer’s point of view," he explains. "If we just stocked what I like — and I think I’m pretty well-rounded — there would still be a lot of what we have in here today. But I always think about the clientele and the range. I read the reports and see what genre sells best; then I get my ass out there and buy those records. I’ll also get complaints from people asking for rock records, so I just bought 3,000 rock records. You always have to keep jumping and taking care of your genre-specific clientele."
Whether you grew up listening to vinyl, actively DJ, or simply want to build your record collection, you're welcomed at Technique Records. Looking past its second anniversary, the store plans to continue refining its recipe for success and engaging with both creative community and the musical world at large.
“I’ve rolled the dice several times," Ramirez says. "I’ve succeeded in many and failed at some others, but anything I can do to contribute to the greater good, including the community and the shop, I’ll always do. Who knows what will happen for year three... Just know it will be good."
The Jazz Cafe/Technique Records Second Anniversary. Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, January 26, at Technique Records, 880 NE 79th St., Miami; 786-717-6622; techniquerecords.com. Admission is free.