Small Business Success Story: How This Cleveland Record Store Continues To Thrive

A Separate Reality Records / A Separate Reality Records

In 2021, GOBankingRates featured “Small Business Spotlight” nominee A Separate Reality Records, a record store in Cleveland started by music industry vet and cancer survivor Augustus Payne. At the time, Payne shared how he adapted his business during the pandemic to keep it going through difficult times. Now, one year later, we’re checking back in with Payne to talk about what he’s learned over the past two years and what his hopes are for the future of his business.

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What have been the biggest changes at your business since we spoke with you last year?

There has been a large increase in people buying records.

What have the past two pandemic years taught you as a business owner? How will you continue to implement the lessons you learned?

You have to be ready to change how you operate at a second’s notice, from a mix of in-store and online to online only. Now [we’re] back to a healthy mix.

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Can you share a customer interaction that has stuck with you or felt particularly rewarding?

It’s an amazing feeling when people genuinely love the records you’re selling. This is not only a business for me but a true labor of love.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew about being a business owner before becoming one?

I wish I knew how totally consuming it is to own a store. If you have a store, it’s best to love what you do.

What are your hopes for the future of your business?

Just to keep the store growing and share my love of music with the world.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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