shopping at the new fingerprints: DAY ONE

February 3, 2011


story published at with post-fact photo by Christopher Victorio for OC Weekly

The mass e-mail went out to Fingerprints fans almost a week ago. “It’s moving day!” screamed the subject line. “We should be open by Tuesday,” read the body text. “Just call before you come over to make sure.”

Rand Foster and his music-loving crew worked 12-plus-hour days all weekend to schlep the contents of the iconic independent music store from its founding-and-only location on Second Street in Belmont Shore’s to its new downtown digs in the old Lyons Art Supply building at Fourth and Elm. When Fingerprints reopened its doors—and yes, they did it by Tuesday—it was with thrice the square footage, twice the headroom and infinitely more potential for growth.

SST Studios, another icon of Long Beach music, is no longer across the street (Lyons moved into the eco-friendly building erected in its place last year), but parking for the new Fingerprints is SST’s old parking lot. As I rolled in, that was enough for me to feel connected to the city’s music pantheon. Greg Ginn, Henry Rollins and Mike Watt once parked their hoopties here during recording sessions and now I get to park mine here while I buy their albums re-pressed on 180 gram vinyl!

First impressions walking into the building: The new Fingerprints is magnificent, both architecturally and in terms of sheer retail space. Original concrete floors accompany open-faced brick walls and all the old wooden rafters have been sandblasted to suck in light from the multiple sunroofs.


Although the bags aren’t fully unpacked yet, enough stuff has been stocked in the four distinct rooms to show the purpose of each. The main room is all the rock/pop CDs , the new and the used finally integrated into one massive organized mess, with DVD in their own nook in the back. Books get a wall of shelves in the swag room. Vinyl gets the low-ceiling den off on the side, in case you want to feel like you’re foraging through someone’s garage. And rap/world/reggae/country/everything else gets the big room on the right. Racks in the main room will roll away to make room for in-store performances  and the store’s impressive in-store poster collection has been relocated to the far left wall.

It’s not quite Amoeba, but it’s a damn-good version that’s worthy of Long Beach, although the Fingerprints team still has a lot of work ahead.

Racks are half-full, the merch room is empty, the vinyl section has yet to unload its jazz collection or box sets, the DVDs are still packed away and in the “everything but rock and pop room,” boxes with labels such as “Used country CD backstock A-G” are still stacked along the wall. There is only one POS station set up and the employees are adjusting to the new phone and security systems.

All in all, however, Tuesday’s soft opening appeared to be a smooth opening, too, with a good number of customers happily browsing through what almost looked like a garage sale.

The adjacent coffee spot—Portfolio’s new project, to be called Berlin, which will have two doorways that connect directly into the new record store—has yet to announce an opening date, but as the superfan clutching a fistful of Sharpies in the lobby of the Riot House said in Almost Famous, “It’s all happening.”


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