PAT MCGRATH is a realist. The venerable owner of landmark local indie record store LOONEY TUNES could see that, despite the 33 years he had been a part of the Boston music fabric, his days on Boylston Street in the heart of the Berklee College of Music were numbered.
He also knew that he didn’t have a lot of time to plot his next move when Berklee informed him it was time to go.
“Right now, we’re dealing with the situation of a massive clusterfuck,” he says of the daunting task of relocating, by his own estimation, “A couple of hundred thousand records. Trying to get stuff out, get it in, not a tidy affair.”
Luckily local vinyl junkies need not despair. McGrath and all those Looney Tunes have found a new home at 16 Harvard Avenue in Allston, across the street from O’Brien’s Pub, where they will merge with Wayne Valdez and his Store 54 to create what amounts to a Boston Music Supermarket. The two hope to be up and running within the month, with the Store 54 Facebook page being the most reliable spot to find updates.
“You’ve got two guys with like 60 years of experience with recycling and building community,” says Valdez of the merger. “The vinyl’s been driving me so I know there’s a lot of business in that and now I’ll just focus on the related: cool objects, clothes, books, all with a theme running through it. We like art, music, literature.”
Though McGrath plans on devoting a good portion of his energies to wholesaling the massive Looney Tunes inventory, he is excited about putting his best product on retail sale. Of the roughly 1,600 square feet of sales space at 16 Harvard, Valdez guesses that Looney Tunes will take some two-third, leaving room for Store 54 to continue with occasional live shows. He admits, “we might have a space challenge, but we’ll work it out.”
Amidst the vinyl selections, Valdez and girlfriend Janice Maestas, an audio tech who has helped stock Store 54 with musical gear as well as clothing, will position their offerings.
For his part, McGrath holds no ill will towards his former landlord, though he does question what role his successor (reportedly the J.P. Licks that recently left Newbury Street) has to offer a music school.
“I know that ice cream is important,” he says with a smile, “But they teach turntablism at Berklee and you’d have a bitch of a time putting a waffle cone on a turntable.”