Chris Lamb has been blessed with the Peter Pan lifestyle: he does what he loves and he never has to grow up. His employees, whom long-time employee Neill Mclaughlin has described as a family organization, would be the Lost Boys as they finally take over Avalon Records, their own version of Neverland.
After being a full-time employee at Avalon Records for 10 years, located in the heart of downtown, Lamb is the new manager. The independent music shop was previously owned by Jim Nicholls, who originally bought the spot from his old employer in 1987. Since then, Lamb and Nicholls fathered the store together as their own, but the legacy has been passed on.
To Lamb, music and records are more than just merchandise.
“[Music] is always playing wherever I’m at. It’s an emotional thing. It’s a diversion. It can spark memories. It’s very much a part of my life,” Lamb said.
Lamb has always been a record guy. He loves the thrill of the hunt for records and the personality it holds with it.
“I just want to do what I do here in town because I love it.”
Before his employment at Avalon, Lamb worked in Chicago at a small business called Dave’s Records after he graduated from Western in 2011. Lamb said his previous boss, Dave of Dave’s Records, was his “record Yoda” who taught him everything that he knows today.
“He had a really good philosophy, [he said] ‘I would rather sell a record for $20 to a kid in a store than for $40 online because the kid is going to be stoked that he found a record at a decent price and he’ll come back,’” Lamb said.
After working around records and music for more than 10 years, Lamb has finally claimed his rightful throne as the owner, which he always planned to from the start. However, the process of finally claiming his Neverland was no fairytale.
According to Mclaughlin, the transition in management took a year and a half. The time was well-spent, however.
“[Lamb] becoming owner should be nothing but good,” Mclaughlin said. “Our original owner never really came into the shop, and when it comes to the owner knowing and seeing exactly what kind of clientele are coming into the store, it’s just better because [Lamb] gets to be involved more and put his finger on the pulse more than the other owner.”
According to Mclaughlin, Lamb bends over backwards and works every Sunday from open to close so his employees can have that day off. Aside from taking extra hours with his new position, Lamb holds bigger aspirations for the store.
“My plan is to get more engaged with the community and community events. I want to start doing more music in the store which usually only happens once a year,” Lamb said.
Despite the transition of management and possibilities in store for Avalon, Michael Hanley doesn’t want anything to change. Hanley has been a frequent customer who drives from Arlington to Bellingham, about an hour drive, to come to Avalon for two years now. He comes to Avalon for the relaxing environment and the record collection.
“It’s not like big retail where everyone’s just trying to get you out of the door really fast,” Hanley said.
Similarly, Lamb still wants to keep the nature of Avalon as it always was.
“I don’t have any big aspirations to become the record king or whatever. I just want to do what I do here in town because I love it,” Lamb said.
Lamb feels fortunate to be where he is. He is able to do what he has always hoped: turning people towards varieties of music.
“Everything is different, [yet] nothing has changed,” Lamb said.