Third Eye Records originated in Costa Mesa in 2002, but it has been a longtime participant of the Long Beach music scene. Recently, owner Gary Farley has relocated from the 4th St. and Ohio Ave. location to Retro Row. The shop is now in the place of what was once Sneaky Tiki and neighbor to Hawleywood’s Barber Shop on 2234 E 4th St. It’s a modest shop, but it’s hard to miss. If you’re walking down 4th St., you won’t be able to miss the dozens of records adorning the storefront window as well as the characteristically bright orange store sign with funky retro font hanging off the window.
As I walked in, I caught Gary in mid-conversation with a patron who wanted advice on where to begin listening to a well-known artist’s lengthy discography. Gary is someone who knows his music, but more importantly, he’s down to earth and more than happy to share his opinion and to help you find what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know what that is yet.
I caught up with Gary on the day of the soft opening to learn more about the history of Third Eye Records, and what he has in store for the new location.
Constance H. Lin: When you first opened Third Eye Records, what did you have envisioned for the store?
Gary Farley: As a record collector, I wanted Third Eye to be a store where you could find the not-so-ordinary.
CHL: How did you come by the decision to open a record store?
GF: It goes back to the early 90’s when I was really into records and thought how great it would be to have my own shop. I think it is a common fantasy for most adolescents’ except mine never left me.
CHL: Third Eye Records has been “Opening Minds Since 2002.” How did you decide to go with that particular slogan?
GF: The Third Eye connects to our subconscious and is believed to be a “path” to achieving higher consciousness. Music also has a way of opening our minds into a better place.
CHL: Third Eye Records originally started opening minds in Costa Mesa. What inspired your decision to move to Long Beach as opposed to somewhere else?
GF: This is a long story, but the version I like to tell is that everything happens for a reason and when an opportunity presents itself, you have a choice to make a positive change or stay where you are. I continue to choose “positive change.”
CHL: Are there any things that you plan on doing differently at the new location?
GF: Many things. Some will be revealed as I settle into this new space.
CHL: Long Beach has a handful of record stores such as Bagatelle Records, Dizzy on Vinyl, Fingerprints. With so many options around for vinyl enthusiasts, do you find that it’s difficult to maintain your specialty of stocking rare and eclectic music?
GF: Not at all. The beauty of record collecting is there are literally thousands of groups and genres as well as multiple formats to keep every enthusiast searching. No record shop will have the same stock.
CHL: Due to limited space, how do you decide what goes on the shelves?
GF: That is a tough question. It really comes from years of collecting and thinking about what I would like to see as an avid collector.
CHL: What has been the store’s best, or most consistent sellers?
GF: Oh gosh, it really can be media driven at times. Fleetwood Mac, [David] Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Hendrix, and The Beatles are always consistent sellers.
CHL: What makes shopping at indie record stores such as Third Eye Records different from shopping at a large retailer, or online sites and forums like Amazon and Discogs?
GF: Records are meant to be a tactile as well as sensory experience. The smell, the feel and the atmosphere that you gain in any Independently owned shop is much more memorable. I guarantee that when you are older and sharing stories with friends or family over the first time you went into a record shop that you will still have that sensory memory. You will never get that staring into a computer screen.
CHL: Although there is a massive resurgence in vinyl, digital media remains the dominant format, and small businesses—even larger retailers such as Barnes and Noble—that deal in physical formats are hurting. Where do you see the future of indie record stores heading?
GF: Another tough question. I honestly don’t waste too much energy worrying about that. Records have been around for nearly a century and large retailers are always searching for the “hot” item.
CHL: How can indie stores such as Third Eye Records compete against this?
GF: Keep doing what you love and believe in.
CHL: Do you plan on expanding to online sales? If not, why?
GF: I do sell online, but many releases are so limited that I would rather keep those titles in the store.
CHL: Record Store Day is rapidly approaching (the third Saturday of every April). Will you be holding any events to celebrate RSD?
GF: I hope to, but nothing planned as of now.
CHL: What are you most excited about Third Eye Records for this year?
GF: I am really happy with the new location and sharing music with the neighborhood.
CHL: When can the community expect a grand reopening? Will you be holding any events for the special occasion?
GF: Details will be revealed quite soon.
In the meantime, you can follow Third Eye Records on Instagram @thirdeyerecords. Gary often features vinyl that he has in stock in his posts, and you just might spot something you’ve been itching to get. Better yet, if you’re down by Retro Row or just looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, consider swinging by the shop and explore some new music at the handy listening station.