Records spinning in Orbit’s

Published 4:23 am Friday, August 26, 2022

Story by Dawn Nolan

For local restauranteur Jason Beter, opening a record store was a different type of business venture, but it was one that held a lot of nostalgia. Beter had spent a lot of time at the old Davidson’s [Record Shop] in downtown Huntington during his youth, and it made a lasting impact. 

“Jay [Mitchell, Davidson’s owner] was kind of a mentor — well, as much of a mentor as an adult could be to a snotty teenage kid riding a skateboard,” he laughed. “But I learned a lot about business from just hanging out in that store, and that’s where my taste of music developed. I also developed lifelong friendships.”

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Now, Beter is the owner of Oscar’s Breakfast, Burgers & Brews and 1861 Public House, both in Barboursville. When he happened to meet the owner of a space in Barboursville, he shared his dream, and things started rolling. 

“It wasn’t really planned, but it was something I always wanted to do,” Beter said. “I’ve always loved records and records stores.”

Beter opened Orbit’s Record Shop — named after his dog, Orbit — in November at 601 Central Avenue in Barboursville, right across the street from 1861 and where another record store (Maggies Farm Record Store) stood in the early 90s.  

“Orbit’s was supposed to be kind of my little pet project — my hangout — and it turned into a legit record store right out of the gate,” he said.

Though the space is on the smaller side, Beter actually prefers it that way. 

“We’re never going to be the biggest record store around, but we’ve got a good mix of new and used, and that’s not what we want to do anyway,” he said. “We want to have a quality selection but in a store where you’re not overwhelmed. You can touch about every record in here in about an hour, and I like when people walk in the door and just stand here for an hour and talk to me about their favorite record. We’re passionate about it.”

Orbit’s has records in basically every genre — from heavy metal  (Beter’s personal favorite) to pop (ranging from 80s to current artists like Adele and Taylor Swift) to country/folk musicians like Sturgill Simpson and Tyler Childers. 

“I think we’ve got a great mixture of everything in here for everyone,” Beter said. “We have a constant rotation; it was the goal for having a store this size — keeping the inventory fresh.”

Adding inventory has been a learning experience for Beter, and he’s thankful that he’s got friends that have lent their knowledge. 

“I’m a metal guy. I like metal music. So, the hard part for me was getting outside of that. I’m also into some synth and 80s pop, and I grew up listening to 70s classic rock. But anything outside of that, like when you get into country or the new Americana/Appalachian type stuff that’s so popular now, I get a little lost,” Beter said. “Luckily, I’ve got great friends that love to hang out here and help out, and they’re really in tune with that. So, I get to lean on them quite a bit.”

In just the last few months, Beter has seen a lot of records come through his shop. One that stood out was by a band called Beowulf, which happened to be extremely rare. 

“We got what I guess would be the Holy Grail for some people that came in for a trade. None of us really knew what it was until we started doing some research, and we could only find one that had ever been sold on the Internet, and it was for $750. That was pretty cool,” Beter said.

He’s still holding out hope for his own “grail,” though. 

“Everybody’s Holy Grail is different. Like mine. I still haven’t seen it, but I hope that it walks into the door someday. It’s the self-titled Duran Duran record, commonly known as The Wedding Album. For some people, they wouldn’t care about that, but that’s mine,” Beter said. “And that’s the fun part — when you watch somebody find what’s an important record to them, even though it isn’t necessarily important to somebody else.”

Musical preferences run the gamut, just like Orbit’s customer base. Beter has seen all types — from experienced collectors to excited teenagers like he used to be — flipping through the records in the store.

“It’s been all over the place,” he said. “Obviously, the bulk of them are seasoned veterans, but we get everyone from the guy who’s been buying records since he was in the military in the 60s and 70s to the new kids. We get a lot of grandparents in here buying for their grandkids,” he said. 

Seeing a younger demographic in the shop reminds Beter of the reason why he wanted to open Orbit’s in the first place. 

“We’re getting teenagers in that are just now getting into it [records], and honestly, that’s been the most fun for us,” he said. “I mean, watching a teenage kid walk in and lose their mind over a Motley Crue record, and freak out because they’re buying it and going home with it — that was me at their age. And that’s been my favorite part of it so far.” 

Orbit’s Record Shop is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 304.823.4560 for more information. Like them on Facebook/follow them on Instagram: @orbitsrecordshop.