Story by Rod Antone | Photo courtesy of Requests Music
It takes a lot to stand out amid the eclectic mash of art galleries, pawn shops, antique stores and cafés that make up Market Street in Wailuku, but Requests Music does.
And it’s not because the store looks like a mad bunker filled with surf posters, store signs and statuettes of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In an age of iPod music downloads and Pandora radio, Requests manages to sell music: on CDs, cassette tapes, vinyl records (an estimated 20,000 albums are stored in the basement), and even eight-track.
“We gladly specialize in the obscure,” says store manager Brendan Smith. “We have stuff that you may not think about getting online.”
Owner Vince Mendez opened Requests twenty years ago, only then he also sold sports cards and memorabilia. Now the shop is legendary for its selection of music, especially reggae and what Smith describes as the “best punk section in the state.”
“We get calls from other islands and out of state all the time.”
Gavin Azevedo drives all the way from ‘Ulupalakua to shop at Requests. “I like buying the whole album,” he says. “If you just download the one or two songs you like, I feel like you haven’t earned the right to listen to the music.”
Smith says part of Requests’ success is the fact that the store buys back music, too. Many customers make a purchase, go home and upload it, then come back and sell their purchases for store credit.
“They have everything,” says Pa‘ia resident Brittney Danielsen. “I’ll come in and be here for hours.”